Highway since 2001. In this town where we met, Highway produced a local online news publication in 2004 and I began working for him in 2009 writing for his publication. We developed deep ties to the community there and with one another. This is the town where I raised my daughter, her hometown. This is also the town where both of our ex's live now.
Highway and I moved away from Menifee just over a year ago. We loved our friends, but we both felt so stuck there. We wanted to travel, see and experience new things, meet new people and live in different cities. We started with San Diego, just an hour away, where Highway had spent his childhood. He wanted to go home, find himself, find a piece of him he felt he had lost. We've come to love it here. I speak with at least one of my friends from Menifee daily it seems about what's going on locally, but it's been a month since I've been back.
Our friend Carmelita was involved with the Chamber of Commerce, the Woman's Club, Soroptomist International, Kiwanis Club, the National Association for Female Executives, the local Catholic Church, and participated in countless other community activities daily. She was most known for her presence at every Chamber of Commerce event, serving as official photographer and greeter of virtually every guest. No one ever entered a Chamber event without meeting Carmelita. She and I served as Senior Mrs. and Ms. Menifee Valley Chamber Queens together (This is where I got the nickname Sash). Our Chamber was special because of Carmelita and she will be painfully missed. I'm going back to my Menifee on Monday for her funeral.
In many ways Menifee is home for us, but in our hearts, we are drifters. Owning things, staying too long, seeing the same things all of the time wears on us. We itch to go, to move, to fly, to run. We love to experience see new things, but I think the truth is that we really both want to run.
For so many years I longed to settle down; get married, raise my daughter, own a home and I found all of that in Menifee. I was meticulous in my housekeeping; everything was neat and tidy and perfect. I would clean the house to perfection and simply sit on the couch, being careful to not muss the pillows as I sat. I would sit very still basking in the serenity of perfection, stillness and security. I knew that I could manage my world and that nothing would ever change within the confines of my home. After some time, that was the very element that ate away at my heart.
Now I want to run. I want a new place, a new view, new food, new experiences daily. I can't help but wonder what makes me feel this way. As long as I have Highway I feel all of that security that I need. As long as I know myself, live my life to the fullest, listen to my heart, I have more than I found in my house with all of my things; the things that tied me down. I love the freedom that comes with vagrancy. By design we have jobs that are done entirely from a laptop and a cell phone so we can be mobile. I have my best friend/husband/partner in Highway and now I feel safe enough to let everything else go.
Most of it. But try as I may to let go, I miss the people. I miss my daughter, my niece and her family, my friends in Menifee. I miss the Chamber Mixers, the drinks with friends, and the karaoke nights. I miss the parties, the laughs and the hugs. I miss their smiling faces and hearing them say my name.
When I told Carmelita about our upcoming Gypsy Trip she said the most amazing thing.
"If you want to do something, do it right now. Don't wait. You will never regret doing something you really want to do. You will only regret putting it off."
Those were her last words to me. We hugged and said goodbye. I hugged and said goodbye to our other friends who filled her hospital room. And as I write this now, at my desk, heartbroken and weeping, I can't help but wonder, what is wrong with me? Why can't I stay still and be happy in one place, like Carmelita? Will I ever love a place so much that I will want to grow roots and make it my home?
Right now I'm so torn. I know that I'm not ready for that. But I miss my friends and family so much, it breaks my heart. Perhaps those roots are already beginning to grow. Maybe that's what keeps tearing at my heart. The roots of friendship in my heart.