CHANGE IS HARD

I knew there were lots of changes on the way.  That is, after all, why I chose change for my word this year.  What has become extremely clear to me in the last month and a half since we left Coronado, is change is flipping hard.  I mean really difficult.  It’s not like I haven’t had lots of changes in life before now.  I have, and some of them were excruciatingly hard to come to terms with.  This is different though.  We actually chose to move to Ventura.  We came 5 or 6 times, starting last December, and we thought we liked it here.  It seemed like a nice community, the beach is right there and, most importantly, it is affordable.  By affordable, I mean that for a coastal town in Southern California, the housing prices are not so bad.  It’s all relative, of course.  It is still stinking expensive if compared to other parts of the country.

We arrived to our furnished rental house on 12 May.  We had been sort of ‘homeless’ since 30 March when the movers came and took all our belongings to my brother-in-law’s house for storage.  We stayed next door at our neighbor’s back guest house for 3 nights, went to Ventura for one day/night to meet with the homeowners of the house we are renting for 5 months and also buy a king mattress to be delivered on 12 May, then to Las Vegas for 4 nights (3 in a hotel, 1 at my sister’s,) back to San Diego for 2 nights at my cousin’s in Rancho Bernardo and finally ended at the Crown Inn on Coronado for the last 3 nights of our having-no-place-to-call-our-own time.  It wasn’t really that bad, but once we finally got to ‘our’ new house, we were so happy we would be staying put for a while. It’s the moving around every few days that got to me/us.

What has also become clear to me since getting to Ventura is we accidentally rented a Hobbit house!  I am not kidding.  The house itself is about 900 square feet, which is only about 100 square feet smaller than the house on Coronado.  The problem is the layout of the rooms.  Again, not horrible, it just takes time to get used to it.  (For me, apparently, a lot of time.)  No, what makes it a Hobbit house is that everything is so small.  For instance, we do have a washer and dryer in the basement.  For those of you who do not live in California, basements are not common.  This house is on a hill, which allows for a basement.  Of sorts.

That pretty blue door is the door to the basement.  It’s also where we keep our bicycles, and you can be sure, lifting the bikes up and over the wall is a total pain.  One of the first days here I almost gave myself a concussion because I did not duck enough to get through the doorway.  The height of the ceiling once in the door is about six feet!  And the crossbeam even has a padded wrap and the homeowner was kind enough to write BAM! on it, just as a reminder.  While I am able to stand up straight on either side of that beam, my husband being 6’4″ cannot.  Needless to say, it is my job to do the laundry.

Everything is just on a much smaller scale in the house.  The bathtub is teeny, not that I fit in most tubs anyway at 5’10”.  Even the door jambs are quite small, and I seem to regularly bang my shoulders when I walk through.  We sometimes wonder how we missed these things when we originally looked at the house back in February.  I think at that point we were just happy to have found a short-term rental house.

And now we are not really liking Ventura.  It is hard to figure out why.  It is so different from Coronado, and we (especially me, having been there for 15 years) are really spoiled from living there.  I could walk everywhere on the island; here, not so much.  Sure, I can go for walks, but I want to be able to walk to the grocery store, and here it just isn’t a possibility.  It is so much busier, too.  Island life truly was more relaxed and laid-back.  It could be that it will just take time to get used to my new surroundings.  Or I may never feel comfortable here.  Only time will tell.

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NOT AT ALL RIGHT

Yes, it has been a long time, over 5 months since my last post.  With all the changes taking place in my life, I simply did not take the time to write.  More on that later.  Right now, though, I need to vent about an incident that just occurred.

As many of you already know, my husband and I have moved away from Coronado, up the California coast to Ventura.  We are still in the process of doing our best to settle in.  That is also a story for another time.  This morning, though, I was taking my walk.  It was not even early because it was so cold last night, I had to wait until it warmed up a bit before leaving the house.  Not that the house is warm!  Anyway, I was walking one of my longer routes that takes me down Main Street and out to the bike path along the Ventura River Estuary and to the path along the ocean.  As has always been my habit, when I see someone passing me from the opposite direction I say, “Good morning.”  I think it is simply a polite thing to do.  I am not looking to engage you in conversation.  I am only acknowledging that I see you and that it is morning.  After I made the turn onto the beach path, I said ‘good morning’ to a guy on a bicycle.  He then proceeded to start yakking at me.  I did not slow down or respond to him and I have no idea what he even said, nor did I care.  Little did I know that he followed me.  Didn’t know it until I went to cross the street to go up and over the 101.  I wasn’t scared, but I was pissed.

He then continued to follow me at a distance.  I did not turn around because I didn’t want him to know that I knew he was back there.  After a few blocks I was able to look back when I crossed another street.  My main concern was that he not know where I live, so I started zig zagging on blocks.  I ran when he was unable to see me to put even more space between us.  I eventually wound my way around to my house and, again, made sure he was not able to see where I live before crossing the street and going up the driveway.

I came in the house and told my husband what had happened.  And now I’m telling all of you.  My questions are:  Which part of I-am-completely-ignoring-you-and-anything-you- have-to-say-to-me do you not understand?  Why do you think it is okay to follow someone who has clearly NOT engaged with you in any way other than to be polite and say good morning?  What gives men (I know this is a huge generalization here, but my experience has been it is men and not women) the ‘right’ to harass someone who is clearly not interested?  Do I have to be a bitch in order to get my intent across?  Now, given my history, this is an even bigger deal than it might otherwise be.

Part of the reason we left Coronado was that I continue to not feel completely safe.  I do understand that it wasn’t Coronado who attacked me, and I was able to go back to loving living there again.  And yet, there is still a part of me that was hoping a new place might, just might, allow me to feel safe like I did pre-sexual assault.

I am not saying that the guy this morning was anything other than a normal person, BUT I wanted nothing to do with him and he was ignoring this.  Is it kinder to tell someone to ‘fuck off and leave me alone?’  Okay, maybe not in those words, but why should I have to specifically spell it out?  I have been accused of being a stuck-up snob because I don’t speak to people, and yet when I do, I am followed.  I have also been told that I seem to have a shield around me and a look on my face when I am walking that says, ‘don’t fuck with me.’  Most of the time this works at keeping unwanted attention away, not always though.

So, is my only recourse to not speak to anyone ever when I am out walking?  Is it okay to say good morning to women but not men?  I seem ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ in this situation.

SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVING IS JUST THE SAME AS ALWAYS

At least for me it is…

This morning as I was walking home from the bank, I noticed, in the distance, a little girl come out of her house,  She was wearing her bathing suit.  What flashed in my head was a memory of how summer used to be…  when I was a kid, and even through high school…  until I got my first job.  Actually, even after I had my first job because it was just part-time and I usually worked in the afternoons.  We were never allowed to sleep late, but since I had diving practice at 7am every day in the summer, I was up early anyway.  As soon as I got up, I put my bathing suit on.  And more often than not, when we were on vacation in Cape Hatteras, to save time in the mornings, I would simply sleep in my bathing suit.  That way I was ready as soon as I woke up to get my day started.  Or I was just lazy and sleeping in it was one less thing I had to do when I got up.  Anyway, seeing that little girl this morning reminded me that summer is a different experience when you are a kid.  I think that only children, and retired adults, can truly, truly enjoy summer.

I live in Southern California where it is, pretty much, always summer, at least it seems that way.  Still, there is something about the ‘real’ summertime that feels different.  And here on Coronado, the island is gearing up for the big 4th of July festivities.  That makes it even more of a challenge for me to come home and work.  Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and know that I am very fortunate to be self-employed and to work at home.  However, it is times like this that make me long for a time when all I had to do in the morning was get up, put my bathing suit on and go to the pool for the entire day.  I do have slipcovers that must be finished before the 4th though, so I will do what has to be done.  Just know that in my mind, in my imagination, I am playing in the ocean like the dolphin I always wanted to be when I grew up!

These pictures were taken at a swim meet on 9 June 1975, my fifteenth birthday.  I dove and then swam several events:

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