I’ll wear a town like a leather jacket
When the new wears off, I don’t even pack it
If you need me
I’ll be where my reputation don’t precede me
Maybe I’m addicted to goodbyes
Another town, where my past can’t run me down
Another life, another call, another bed I shouldn’t crawl out of
At 7 AM with shoes in my hand
Said I wouldn’t do it, but I did it again
And I know I’ll be gone tomorrow night
Mmm, another vice
– Miranda Lambert
On May 14, 2016, I missed my flight back to San Diego.
In all my 24 years of flying I have never missed a flight.
Okay, so, that’s a lie. I have missed one. I missed a flight to Florida once. Totally not my fault though (true story). But, this time – yeah, this time – completely my fault.
For whatever reason, I had my mind set on flying back to California on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. I scheduled it that way on purpose. I wanted the whole weekend in Charleston. I wanted a full few days at Nana’s. So, naturally, you could imagine my surprise when I received an American Airline notification on Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
My heart sank.
My mind began to race.
“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit!”
Kaley and Katie were in town for the weekend visiting me before I went back to the West Coast. We spent Friday night at Auntie Crystal and Uncle Jeff’s eating Mexican and getting naked-wasted at their house on the lake. Saturday morning started out rough. During the 15-minute trek back to Nana’s, we had to stop off at Chick-fil-a for breakfast and then Mimmie’s house for a rest. Kaley and I had pretty much recovered by lunchtime but Katie was still down for the count. So, I tucked one friend into bed and took the other downtown on my signature “Tour de Holy City”.
Everything was going so well. We were having such a good weekend. The weather was perfect, the food was on point, and the drinks were great. Hell, things were going so well, a fucking lizard decided to hitch a ride on my windshield! He managed to make it all the way from downtown to North Charleston before fluttering off into oblivion (… with my driving, that’s a huge feat [hints, it’s considered a “win”])!
Anyhow, Kaley and I had just walked back into the house. We had come back to change and pick up Katie. The three of us were going back downtown for dinner and drinks. And then, BAM!
Well, it was probably more like a – ting!
“Hello! This is American Airlines. You are stuck in Charleston. Forever. Bye.”
I ran to the back of the house. On the verge of tears, I frantically spit out the details of my mistake to the girls. I called American Airlines and plead my case to customer service. Nothing. It was going to cost me hundreds of dollars to get back home. Hundreds of dollars I didn’t have. Shit, I didn’t even have the money to buy my original ticket to Charleston. Momma had purchased it.
When I told her I quit Europe she said, “Yes! Does that mean you can come to the beach?!” “No, mother,” I replied flatly, “If I’m too poor for Europe, then I’m too poor for the beach.” But the woman was bound and fucking determined to make the beach happen. So, I paid the 400 bucks for a Sonny-sitter and she bought my plane ticket.
Ironically, I think she came out cheaper.
Back to my story:
How was I going to come up with the cash for a $500.00 one-way?
I was nauseous.
I called Kristen. I called my Auntie Crystal. I called Expedia. I called whomever I thought could help.
I did not call my mother.
Or tell my Nana.
There are just some things you keep secret around certain women in my family. Missing flights, Momma, Nana – those are a few. I couldn’t take the drama. Plus, both women have heart conditions. So really, they can’t take the drama either.
At some point, Kristen mentioned, “Call AA back and ask them if you can fly stand-by. I mean, you have a ticket. Just see what they say.” When the lady on the other end of the phone said, “I’m not entirely sure how it works but your best bet is to go up to the ticket counter and have them adjust your ticket,” I thought I had mistakenly called heaven.
I clicked End and exclaimed, “That’s it. This is it. I’m moving back.”
Kaley’s mouth dropped, “Wait. What?”
I have talked a lot about my love affair with San Diego. I have discussed how different my life is now, how refreshed my outlook is, and how happy I am here in California. I have told you if I ever decided to leave the West Coast that it would be one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make…
But then, it wasn’t.
When I moved 2,400 miles away, everyone worried about me.
Momma would ask, “What if something happens to you out in California? How will we get to you? Who will take care of you – make sure you are okay?” “Jesus, Mom, nothing is going to happen,” was always my response. And luckily, nothing ever did.
When you are the only person in your family (immediate and extended) to move long distance, you are pummeled with these kinds of questions. When there is a fire, or earthquake, or shooting, or any sort of national news item regarding your new state – you receive a text message or phone call from everyone. When a holiday is coming up – regardless of its significance (e.g., May Day, Ground Hog Day, National Hebrew Day, Flip a Coin Day [which is June 1, P.S.], etc.) – never fails, you will get at least one, “Hey, uhh, you gonna be in town for [Insert Bullshit-Holiday-Your-Family-Never-Celebrated-Before-You-Left Here]? We’re thinkin’ about cookin’ a ham (I hate ham, by the way),” email. Or what about this one: “You haven’t posted anything on social media in a few days. I’m just making sure you’re alive.” Yeah. My mother has actually said that to me when I answered the phone before.
I spent so much time keeping the vultures at bay that I never had time to consider how I would feel if the roles were ever reversed…
What if something were to happen to one of them.
And then it did.
When Nana went into the hospital with heart failure at the end of June, I felt helpless. Momma has a hard time accurately relaying information from the doctors without getting upset. My Papa cannot be left unattended due to his failing mental health. Auntie Crystal has a business to run, my uncle works nights and my cousins do what they can. It got to the point where I was talking to the nurses on the phone from California.
On Monday, June 27, we were told there was a possibility the good side of Nana’s heart (the side without the defibrillator) was failing. I immediately left work. Luckily, my sweet neighbor agreed (without hesitation) to keep the bubbies. I maxed out a credit card and hopped on the red-eye to the East Coast that evening.
After 14 hours of travel, three layovers and numerous delays, I finally arrived at the hospital to surprise my Nana around noon EST.
That week was hard. Our days were long. We ate shit food. None of us slept. Well, I didn’t sleep. I can’t speak for Angelia… but I’m sure she slept like a fucking infant all hopped up on Benadryl most of the week. Why? ‘Cause the first thing that dumb whore did when I got into town was put me on “Papa Duty,” and then magically, forgot to relieve me [insert eye-rolling emoji].
“Papa Duty” means I had to be sure my grandfather didn’t jail-break in the middle of the night.
Papa Duty sucks.
He’s restless without Nana. He knew something was up. His condition worsens in the evenings. I spent hours bickering with him about turning his television off, the number of snacks he could have, how many drinks he needed, and if the doors to the cars outside were shut. To be honest, the only way I could get that fool to lay down was to threaten him. I told him if he didn’t go to sleep I was gonna call Nana on his ass! That first day, I literally stayed awake for 36 hours straight. So, at 8:30 the next morning – when my devil mother sashayed downstairs in her feather-trimmed silk robe and kitten heels, all fresh-faced and looking as if birds had sang her awake – I shot that woman the side eye, told her to suck it and went upstairs to sleep until four in the afternoon.
Up until this point, I had kept my move a secret. The only people who knew my plan were: Kaley and Katie (when I blurted it out after missing my flight), Tay, Kristen, Auntie Crystal, and Bubba. Auntie Crystal and Bubba had known the longest. I knew early on that if I did decide to move back I would need help. Help with the move and help with making it a surprise.
My original plan was for it to be a Christmas surprise for my family. It was going to be perfect. Stress-free for everyone. I would just show up with my stuff and be home. People would cry. It was going to be great. But then, I watched my Nana sit in a hospital chair and cry about the possibility of having to put my Papa in an assisted living home until she was better.
I sat on a stool in front of her. My Momma sat on her hospital bed. I held my Nana’s hand. This was my Nana. My most favorite person in the whole world. My “person,” my safe place, my best memories, my everything. “I wanted to surprise you but since you’re so upset,” I started, “I’m coming home in December. I’m coming back to live with you when my lease is up.” She lost it and reached for me.
As we hugged, she cried in my ear, “But what if I don’t last that long.”
No one should ever have to hear those words.
No one should ever have to make such a difficult decision.
No one should ever have to reassure the morality of a loved one.
Although, such is the circle of life.
Sometimes, we have to trade in solitary lives in California for permanent Papa Duty in Charleston. Sometimes, we have to reveal our Christmas surprises in an effort to mend broken hearts. Sometimes, we have to max out a credit card or three for the people we can’t live without. Sometimes, we have to give up things we love for the people we love.
I had been asking for a sign for quite some time. Every single ounce of this move fell so perfectly into place that I know in my heart it is God’s plan for me to be here now. I am the first person at my company to ever be approved to work in a remote capacity for my specific position. ESET went over and beyond to accommodate my needs and were so understanding of my situation. I even turned down a position with the largest company in Charleston to stay with my job at ESET because the benefits are so fantastic. I really am truly blessed.
In the meantime, my apartment was rented out early, I put a hitch on Tellula and booked a trailer. Auntie Crystal came into town on December 1. We had one last day in San Diego on Friday and pulled out on Saturday.
My time in California is done.
I could never describe how indebted I feel to the city of San Diego. She repaired my soul. She breathed life back into a withered heart. She shook me out of a very deep sleep. She saved me.
I loved every second of my time spent in California. I regret nothing. This adventure is hands-down the best decision I have ever made for myself – ever. I could not be more proud of the choices I have made over the last two years. And one day, this snippet of life will be my favorite story to tell to my little girl.
But now – right this very second – it is time for me to come home.
Luckily, Nana is doing so much better – better than she has been in years. She sounds better and seems to be doing more. She is back to her old self and it is awesome to see. I’d like to think my move maybe lit a fire under her ass :).
So, long story short:
I’m back, bitches!
That’s right! I’m back on the East Coast and I’m ready to raise some hell! The little bubbies and I are wrecking havoc in Charleston – we’re tearing. this. fucking. town. uuup. Yes sir, buddy! When we’re not stuffing our faces with BBQ or going to Christmas festivals with every individual in a 15-mile radius over the age of 71, we’re watching the Price is GD Right. I’ve turned Papa onto Chrisley Knows Best. In turn, Papa’s turned me onto a few new catch phrases:
- “I didn’t do that.”
- “Look at this, Clarice!” (Everyone is Clarice. Ev.er.ry.one.)
- “I’ve had a couple of snacks.” (A couple = he’s knocked off a Debbie Cake truck)
- And my personal fave, “You know what I tell ’em? I tell ’em to shove it up their ass.”
I have a curfew again. Yes. A curfew. I’m 28-years-old and I have to “be home before dark.” At this time of year, y’all, that’s, like, 5:30 in the afternoon. The dogs have to be inside before dark too. I got yelled at last week for saying I would buy my own groceries.
Speaking of yelling, the other day I took Papa with me to return the trailer. Obviously, I can’t back the trailer into a parking spot – I can’t even back my car into a parking spot. So, I asked Papa to do it. He tried to put my car in drive with the windshield wiper lever. That was funny. Anywho, he got the trailer into a spot and we went onto McDonald’s for breakfast. When we got back home Nana asked how everything went. I shouted from the kitchen, “It was okay. I had a hard time backing that thing into a spot though.”
Before I could respond, Papa yelled, “She can’t drive!”
A fight ensued.
I am so very thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful for this beautiful life. I am thankful for the chance to help with my grandparents. I am thankful to be so close to my extended family. I am thankful to be only a short drive away from my immediate family and very best friends. I am thankful for my job. I am thankful to be in another city I love so very much. I am thankful for unanswered prayers. I am thankful for perfect timing. I am thankful that God has a plan, knows exactly what we need and never fails us. I am so, so, so very thankful.
This has been the best year of my life and it has only continued to get better.
I have never been happier. I have been blessed beyond measure.
May you all have a very merry Christmas.