We took this photo (or, rather, the young couple also pulled off on the roadside in front of the California Welcome sign took it) on June 22nd. It was a Wednesday. We were nine days into our 13-day camping trip, our hatchback close to bursting with gear and my legs almost certainly unshaved. We were headed to the Redwoods, which proved to be the highlight of the trip, their 200 and 300-foot treetops existing in another ecosystem from the one we stood in, tilting our faces up and squinting.
When Joe and I realized back in February that we’d be moving to California in a matter of months, the first thing we did (after celebrating his acceptance to PA school) was start booking campsites. Rushing down one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines in a race to “get settled” seemed a wasted opportunity. We would take two weeks, we decided — sleep next to the ocean at night and walk its shorelines in the mornings, camp-stove coffees in hand; hike through forests where the trunks of fir trees frame the sea, its surface blue or grey or green depending on the sky; point out birds I can never remember the names of and sit next to fires together watching the smoke change direction and wondering how wet or dry the wood might be, drinking wine from plastic cups and looking at the moon. Getting settled is part myth anyway, isn’t it? Life doesn’t sift itself into tidy resolutions. You can unpack your boxes and hang your art and start searching for the walking routes you want to take in your new neighbourhood in a different part of the country, but inside, there will always be a stirring, that question — what’s next, now that I am here?