I’ve been pondering lately, particularly about writing, my relationships and finding my place in the world. For almost 17 years, I’ve lived in Sonoma County; and for 17 years, I’ve felt out of place. It’s not that the wine country isn’t perfectly lovely—it has a lot to offer in terms of food, wine, outdoor culture, and natural beauty. In spite of all this, Sonoma County has never felt like home. Relationships are continuously gained and lost, the tourist industry chafes me, the cost of living is outrageous, and the availability of meaningful work at a real living wage is fleeting. Maybe none of this would bother me, but at the end of the day, being here just feels “unheimlich.”
The longer I stay in Sonoma County, the fewer strong, meaningful relationships I have. I connect with people on some levels, but I don’t vibrate with anyone on ALL levels, and I don’t have a best friend to speak of. In the event of a 02:00 emergency or emotional meltdown, I’m not calling anyone. I’ve learned to compartmentalize myself, and only pull out certain “drawers” for certain people. And yet, I want to nurture my friendships and be a supportive friend. As a person who thrives on connections, this combination of desire and reality is challenging, and at times, somewhat lonely. I’ve wondered if this is Sonoma County’s way of rejecting me and telling me it is time to leave.
And yet daily, I struggle to get ready for work, and care for myself, the cats and the house. If I eke out one page of Morning Pages, I feel fortunate. Mostly, I write nothing and feel like I’ve let down myself and my Muse. Finding balance between my “have tos” and my writing is difficult. Adding more to my schedule, regardless of how pleasant, adds to this stress.
As a writer, I’m finding the gift of being “untethered” to my relationships. It’s easier to say no to social engagements, and my feelings don’t get hurt if someone cancels plans—or chooses not to make them at all. When I vowed to take up my pen, tend to my soul’s work and surrender to my Muse, I asked for what I needed to make it so. Then the friendships started to die back, thus providing me with an opportunity to write. My connection to loved ones is important, but embracing my writing is even more so. Rather than looking at my continued stay in Sonoma County as one of constant loss and frustration, perhaps it is time to reframe—and let it be where I settle into my commitment to myself.