different, not bad

When we first moved to Long Beach, we were submerged in new friends and neighbors, people reaching out to us, including us, getting to know us. We put ourselves out there to make friends, said yes to as many engagements as we could, walked up to complete strangers and introduced ourselves. Months later, as it naturally tends to do, we’ve fallen into a groove that sometimes looks like a rut. People know who we are, we don’t get as many invitations, we aren’t checked on as frequently. And that’s okay! It’s normal to eventually fall under the radar. Some days haven’t seemed as okay though, and they left me longing for the community we had in our previous town.

Tehachapi is a little mountain town east of Bakersfield, California and west of Mojave, land of seeming unending desert and spaceship rocket testing. When I first found out we were going to be moving to California from Michigan, I was ecstatic. I was going from a little 32,000 population city in the midwest to CALIFORNIA. People of Michigan dream of vacationing there (especially in winter). There was a split two seconds where I felt elation just before reality crept in. We had a newborn baby, and we were leaving both sets of our parents, our support system, our friends, everything we had known. Tehachapi didn’t turn out to be the beachside California town everybody envisions when they think of the Golden state.

We also majorly downsized. We thought we had outgrown the city that we had, and we were nearly immediately stir crazy in our new town with a population of less than 13,000. The town boasted beautiful panoramic mountain views all around, some quaint little eateries and downtown but not much else. The biggest store it had then was a Kmart. We said we could only last living there for maybe a year.

But the people!

Year after year went by, and we had a hard time imagining leaving, and it had very little to do with the town itself. Our church felt like home. We walked in each Sunday to greet some of our best ever friends, and the congregation felt like one big family reunion (most of the time). We banded together to fight the itch of feeling stranded and had playdates every day. Our daughter started going to school, dance, and soccer and we had a good life there.

When we decided to move again, I was determined to love wherever we ended up immediately, lest it be like Tehachapi where I dragged my heels and hated it until it was time to go, and I realized how much I actually loved it. Long Beach IS that quintessential California beach town. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. As I sit at my computer, I can look out the window and see palm trees. I went to a photographer meetup today because there are so many people in the industry, so many opportunities here. We go to the beach at least once a week. We have a Target in our city! Lots of them!

But amid all the hustle and bustle and everything good that Long Beach provides, it can also be a little lonely. People are busy. They’re working. They’re doing. They already have their people, and they don’t have to band together to survive or else go crazy. There’s still kindness, there’s still friendship and connection. It’s just different.

But not bad.

I’ve had to realize this. There is a chasm between different and bad. And in my quest to be content, and be thankful, I’ve had to fight thoughts of comparison. Our life here, now is good. Just different.