Books to read. Coffee to drink. Stories to write.

The Coziest Time of the Year

Palm trees with string lights in front

Dear Reader:

I am appalled that I’ve neglected my blog all these months. I do, however, have excuses ready to pull out at a moment’s notice. Here goes:

A summer of upheaval while we waited to hear if hubby’s new job would go forward and if we would be making a more permanent cross-country move than the previous year. Finding a new apartment and doing all the paperwork necessary for our move. Organizing our Maine house for the movers and changing addresses for fifty-billion online accounts that we all have to manage now that technology has made our life, ahem, simpler. 

Driving from Maine to San Diego in seven days and the chance to appreciate the vast, beautiful, diverse magnificence that is the United States of America. But then, bone-tired and burned out on landscapes, having to deal with our new reality as we unpacked the stuff we had sent (how many tv’s does one family need?) and buying the stuff we accidentally didn’t send (what the heck happened to my FORKS?), and generally going out of my mind. 

“Sure, Shelley,” you say. “You moved at the end of August. It’s now December. Suck it up, Buttercup.” 

Exactly. It’s time to create a regular posting schedule, and what worked for me in my previous blogging life (Outside the Box/Localista) was a once-a-week post. So that’s what I’m aiming for as the old year wanes and the new year dawns. 

What have I learned this fall?

I’ve learned that visiting a place–even for months at a time–feels vastly different from plunking your belongings into a new community and saying, “I’ve arrived, San Diego! Whattaya got for me?” News flash: San Diego doesn’t care that I’m here. It basically doesn’t give one flying, er, squirrel that I’ve arrived on her western shores, an eager beaver from Maine, looking for adventure. Once again, a lesson in “ask not what your place can do for you but rather what you can do for the place.” Okay, fine. Sigh. 

I’ve learned that the sight of palm trees never grows old, and that poinsettias are planted IN THE GROUND in California. They aren’t just for tabletops here, peeps. But I have one on my table for good measure. And I miss the pine trees, too. Yin/yang is never far from my mind. 

I’ve learned that watching the New York Giants this year hurts, and I curse my hubby for getting me invested in his masochistic fanship. On the other hand…nope. There is no other hand. It’s a freakin’ disaster…I mean building year. 

I’ve learned that YouTube hosts some fabulous “snow falling outside” videos for those times I need a wintery fix during this holiday season. (Also, the L.L. Bean catalog for flannel nighties that fall to the floor and cozy, fleece-lined moccasins, and what ever happened to the “Your L.L. Bean Boyfriend” blog? I guess nothing lasts forever.)

Mostly, I’ve endured the truth of the old (roasted?) chestnut that goes something like, “Wherever you go, there you are.” 

No matter where I hang my hand-knitted wool hat (thank you, Sandra Waugh, for inspiring me to knit in the first place. Forever grateful, girlfriend!), I’m still me. It’s still up to me to find my own meaning and create my own cozy times. A change in scenery can be stimulating, but the inner core of who I am remains malleable only through my own intentions. 

And so, this holiday season, I mean to find coziness in palm trees strung with Christmas lights; in the blooming of green on the dry hillsides after two days of misty California rain; in baking the family recipes–Mom’s cinnamon buns and Nanny’s date tapioca pudding; and, of course, by continuing to read great books and write good stories while searching for a community of people who love art and music and literature and all the good things here in my new place. 


Have you ever moved to a new town, city, country and discovered, to your amazement, you brought all your personal baggage right along with your Samsonite or Louis Vuitton? I’d love to hear about it!  

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Beautiful and thought provoking.

    1. Muchos gracias, my good friend!

  2. So lovely to hear your voice again, Shelley. I enjoyed your piece. And of course, I can relate to what it feels like to move, how small and lonely it makes you feel, but how much it forces you to grow.

    Nelson Mandela: There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

    1. Thank you, Debbie. From someone who has traveled and settled far from home, I know you know what I’m feeling. It helps to know others empathize and understand.

  3. You know my story, I haved moved so many times, as an Army brat and then a Coast Guard wife. Each time was an adventure, new people, new places, new jobs. I am always me just a lot older and sometimes a little more cranky, lol. I am like a chameleon, I just blend in with my surroundings until the next change comes and then I blend again. But I am still a chameleon, lol. Hope you feel like your blending in soon, you will find art and writer friends in no time, we are drawn to each other like magnets. I’m glad you get to see what it’s like to be somewhere different. I think you would have always wondered if you were missing something if you would have chose to live in Maine. P.S. I do miss our times together.

    1. Hi Sandra: You are an inspiration, for sure. Thank you for your perspective on the joys and tribulations of moving. I like the idea of being a chameleon! Perhaps that should be my spirit animal for this time in my life.

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