Monday, May 24, 2010

Paradise for the Dead...

It felt wonderful last night to take a bit of time and explore the history of my new city of residence, San Diego. From an outsider's perspective there is quite a big absence of historical buildings in most neighborhoods here. Like most cities in the United States, the old haunts of past citizens are often lost to what is new and thriving in the present day. But all history is not lost to San Diegans. Scattered around the town and suburbs are little hints of the past... and possibly a few ghosts.

The sad part about this little southwestern paradise is its haunted legends. Don't get me wrong; some nationally famous ghost stories can be found between the canyons and the coast. Yet as is often the case, it's the same stories told and retold. People travel to Whaley House or Hotel del Coronado to stir up a few spirits. We fall in the trap of believing that history is limited to what we know and that with which we are familiar. Yet every place has hundreds--no, thousands--of years or past events buried below the grass and sand. A neighborhood may have been settled within the past century, yet even 100 years of life can provide fascinating stories.

I am once more digging up the bizarre past and interesting ghost stories forgotten by the mass media. And perhaps a few might make it into a sequel of Queer Hauntings (if I find the time and energy to tackle it). A former cemetery turned into a park, an old suspension bridge with perhaps a specter roaming the planks, haunted businesses and inns are but a few of the stories just beginning to be told here on the West Coast. My efforts at finding these new, undiscovered spots have just begun. At this point, the future of my life on the opposite end of the country is uncertain, as is the amount of time I shall stay. But as long as I'm in this new place, there are ghosts to find, stories to tell, and a wealth of past history to share with the world.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Art of Toilet Paper Diplomacy...

Anyone who has moved to a new location can tell you that it's far from an easy transition. It has almost been one full month since I boarded Amtrak and was carried away to begin a new life chapter on the Pacific coast. I had to hit the ground running, so to speak, and I'm glad. Otherwise I would have had too much time to absorb the immensity of the situation. Life, work, and the daily monotony has eaten away most of my time. Only the past few days have afforded me the time to allow my emotions to catch up. I might be in a new "paradise" of sorts, yet stress and depression still rear their ugly heads.

I'm 2500 miles away from anything familiar. That in itself wreaks havoc with my mind. I miss friendships and acquaintances and the support system that comes with such relationships. I'm starting from scratch and it's not all that easy. My new living environment comes with its own set of challenges as well. We're a motley group of different ages and diverse lifestyles. It's a temporary Golden Girls house with tensions abound. New rules, new people, new everything. Two days ago there was no toilet paper left and someone was grumbling to me about who should have a turn buying it to make things fair. To diffuse the situation and avoid further squabbles (and discomfort) I walked down the hill to the 7-Eleven and bought some rolls. Honestly, it's just paper... isn't it? There's no need to create another World War over tissue.

I realize my living arrangement is temporary. It's stressful enough not knowing where I'll be in another month or two without letting petty grievances ignite into brushfires. Stubbornness isn't always necessary. We're all stressed enough without adding drama to the equation. In a lot of ways, I miss the simplicity of my life as I once knew it. It was dull at times and far from ideal but I knew what was coming at me. Here there is only one reliable thing: the weather. Almost every single day has been sunny and hot. Such a wonderful atmosphere. Why muck it up with unnecessary gloominess?

Overall, I am happy I came here. I truly enjoy San Diego. It's unlike any other city I've experienced. Canyons carve deep trenches weaving their way to the ocean, separating out neighborhoods. Humankind further dissects the region with a complex system of freeways meandering in various directions. Everywhere you go there are differing varieties of palm trees and tropical plants. Lizards climb fences and walls darting out of view in their pursuit of insects. It's windy and gorgeous. And the ocean... well, it certainly doesn't smell like rotten fish like Lake Erie. Salt spray mixes with marine life in a scent that's pleasant and difficult to sum up in words.

So, this is my temporary home. A little spot of heaven with reality trying to edge its way in to break the spell. My temporary work will be ending soon. I'm desperately seeking out any means of income I can find while trying to figure out where I'll be living at the end of the month. Paradise doesn't come cheap and the price of living is often higher than you would expect. Still, do I think it was a bad decision on my part? Definitely not. For once, I gave a valiant effort to jumping off the proverbial cliff and seeing if I can fly. I've taken chances that most people would be too terrified to dream. I'm gliding through the air in free-fall and enjoying the view. But in the back of my mind there's that nagging voice; "I sure hope the parachute opens when I pull the cord."

Some people are terrified of ghosts and haunted places. Others are afraid of crawling things and flying insects. They never bother to realize that there is one thing more frightening than any creature, living or not. And that's life. Living is the scariest thing on earth. It's uncertain, unpredictable, and ongoing. There is no escape. You can't run and hide. Whether you like it or not, you're on this roller coaster to the end. Don't let life paralyze you with fear. Accept the adventure for what it is and learn all that you can. Take risks. Jump. Fly. The more time you spend learning about the world around you and where you fit into the puzzle the less scary everything will be.