by Robyn Justo — “HOW COULD YOU LEAVE PARADISE!” the checker at Home Depot demanded to know. I felt my Charlie Brown straight-mouth coming on. I had no answer and it didn’t make sense. It defied logic.
This is the incessant question that strangers have been asking me this past month when I tell them that I just moved to Carmel from Maui. I have to admit that I sometimes ask myself the same thing when the temps drop to 39’ from my comfy island 89’ and I have popsicle toes (and who knows what else froze).
I never thought I would move back to California. I had shipped all my things over to paradise a few years earlier. Never say never
My dear friend and mainlander Bobby had said something months prior to this seemingly illogical move and it might have been a trigger.
“It’s like you are living on a space-station,” he said.
Yikes. That is how I was feeling. Not lonely, but remote in a way, having fallen into a beautiful yet timeless vortex for three years. Maybe it was time for Rocket Girl to come home. No woman is an island, right?
So in 11 short and very intense days I followed my heart from tie-dye and sarongs to Gucci (not that I wear Gucci). I Ieft an ocean view, very private one bedroom ohana for a 300 square foot Carmel studio with high, ivy-covered walls outside that bring back past life memories of living in a convent, now in close proximity of other humans, sleeping in a small daybed in which my restlessness manifests in nocturnal, rotisserie rolls because there is no room to stretch out. I’m adjusting.
I got rid of a ton of stuff before I left and packed the rest in plastic tubs. If I couldn’t lift it, it wasn’t coming with me. Simpler is better. Hopefully my tubs will arrive soon.
I went from reggae to smooth jazz and being surrounded by unshaven and unshowered (but friendly) beings to squeaky clean and well-manicured, albeit a bit (ok a lot) distracted ones who didn’t make eye contact on the street. Donde esta la aloha? I do miss that part.
I had become used to people letting me in on the street and waving to me afterwards. Now I need valium to negotiate the freeways which have 10 times more humans going 10 times faster since my departure 10 years ago. The other day a guy was riding so close behind me that I couldn’t see his headlights in my rearview mirror. I found that my autonomic hand gestures were still intact as was my long forgotten, longshoreman profanity. It dusted off quite nicely.
But there are lots of good things including the fact that I can walk everywhere here in the village, being surrounded by world-class restaurants (which works well since I have lost my penchant for cooking and only have a kitchenette combo of two burners and a small sink) and the best shopping if I ever want to add anything more to my tubs.
My new property manager told me that he envied my lifestyle and the ability to just pack up and go, purging and simplifying along the way. I guess people see that as cool and maybe even courageous at this age. (I don’t swear in front of him so he thinks I am well-adjusted.)
It’s easier to keep a 300-square foot studio clean and it also keeps one quite mindful at the same time, so the questions “Do I need it?” and “Will it fit?” start replacing “Why did I leave paradise?” And the older I get, the less space I seem to need or want.
Maybe I am a true Bohemian or perhaps intuitively know that it’s a good idea to shed our stuff before we finally shed this skin of ours and move around a little (or a lot). And let the wind beneath our wings guide us to new (or old) places before it blows out our flame for good.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child and maybe an older gal and her spirits too. Carmel is also paradise, yes? It used to take me about 10 minutes to drive to the beach on Maui and now it takes me seven to walk there and I need the exercise from all the good eats.
Maybe I have realized that the only home we really ever have is the one in our heart and that one is always mobile.