"Over the Town" by Marc Chagall.
"Over the Town" by Marc Chagall.

Eastward Ho! My state of mind as I leave the Bay Area

We’re moving after eight years. My husband is excited. He should be. The move to Reno is his idea. A return to his childhood home state, something he’s been longing to do for many years.

I, on the other hand, am not excited. It’s a relatively small town. I’m a big-city girl. So I view the relocation with trepidation.

But what the heck. I love the guy. So it’s onward to the next adventure in this larger-than-life adventure called marriage. It’s worked out pretty well so far in our 34 years.

So, again, onward.

It isn’t even the move to the new home and town that I’m struggling with, as much as the move away from this place.

It’s odd. Growing up, I moved frequently. My family moved so often I attended 22 schools. The longest I ever lived in one place was 3½ years. Military kids had nothing on me!

And while I’m not much of a homebody, there’s something about our current home in the East Bay Hills that caused me to fall 100 percent in love with it. Maybe it was the mid-century, modern, open floor plan, or the floor-to-ceiling windows that offer amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but never have I loved a house as much as this one.

A beautiful house — and a warm, wonderful home — where we’ve entertained friends and cooked countless delicious, calorie-laden, laughter-filled family meals.

So, leaving is tough.

And it’s not just the architecture or the view of the San Francisco Bay I’m going to miss. It’s the community. I’m going to miss the sweet lady from Korea who runs the dry-cleaning shop I go to. She doesn’t speak much English. I don’t speak any Korean. Yet, that dear woman has not only tended to our clothes, but she’s also filled an emotional void in my life.

She’s a seamstress who’s mended them with loving care — often at no charge. My grandmother did this for decades and worried who would take over the task after she died. Each time I go to the cleaners with an item in need of stitching, I look to the heavens and silently say, “See, Grandma, I found a friend to take care of me. You don’t have to worry.” Now, with this move, Grandma and I both must worry anew about holes, hems and loving-kindness.

I’m also going to miss my community of artists and theatre chums at the Tony Award–winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre. I come from a family of Broadway-aholics. Those family members are all gone, and I miss them keenly. So when we moved here, the Berkeley Rep filled a void. Now, I’m losing that, too. It’s hard on my heart and soul.

My mother was a devoted gardener. As a teenager, I didn’t get the attraction. In fact, I smirked as she got down on her hands and knees cultivating envy-of-the-neighborhood roses and bigger-than-your-fist tomatoes. Back then, I was going to change the world. Who had time for such mundane backyard pursuits? But now, as an almost-oldster nestled in my cozy home, I’ve watched with pride as the magnolia tree we planted grew from a sapling to almost two stories tall, and my wee Japanese maple blossomed into a graceful canopy of branches and leaves.

Yes, at 67, I understand that changing the world is hard and that incremental changes in my own backyard are something to note and savor.

At 67, I also know that friends are as valuable as family, especially since so many relatives have died. This makes saying goodbye to good friends especially difficult.

Judaism places a high value on community. Almost 2,000 years ago, Rabbi Hillel said “Do not separate yourself from community.” Of course, he was speaking of spiritual matters, not a 200-mile move over the Sierra Nevada, but still, it reinforces my angst at this moment.

It also reinforces my sense of urgency to “get on with the show,” get settled in my new community and rebuild my life, make friends, form alliances and find new purpose there. It won’t happen overnight. But, of course, Judaism’s belief in the value of community, plus the basic human need for friendship, will help make this latest move the next great adventure in my life.

So, once again, I say “Onward!”

Karen Galatz
Karen Galatz

Karen Galatz is the author of Muddling through Middle Age, a weekly humor blog. An award-winning journalist, her nonfiction and fiction essays and stories have been featured in multiple publications. She is a former resident Berkeley who now lives in Reno and can be reached at [email protected].