I’m beginning a new chapter in my journey, and my setting has changed; my wife and I are now living in San Diego, California. When I was a kid living in Massachusetts, there were two places that I always dreamed about living: San Diego and anywhere in Florida. I’ve now accomplished both. It’s funny how the paths to what we want are circuitous, but there are signs along the way that make you understand you’re heading in the right direction. I’ll explain.

Design by Joseph Lapin

Design by Joseph Lapin

When I look at San Diego and compare it to Los Angeles, the cities are so different. Right now, I have my window open in my office, and the dead desert air is blowing into my window, and I don’t hear any sirens, no sounds of traffic, only an unsettling stillness. In the morning, I drive to work, and I’m not stuck in the tin-can confusion of morning rush hour. And the pace of life here is so much slower. In the morning, I drive to a neighborhood coffee shop and order a coffee. I’m in line with only about two other people, and I’m a bit impatient because I want to get to work, when I realize the owner and the barista are talking to the customers. They don’t give a shit if I’m in a rush. They want to talk to their customer and see how they’re doing.

Arriving in San Diego was like realizing that I’ve been running a marathon and I finally stopped to take a breath. I’m inhaling deep suddenly, and it’s exhilarating. I tweeted about this feeling, and then my friend tweeted something back to me:

I’m not sure what type of pace is best for me — whether I need a constant flow of people and traffic and madness to make the inspiration happen, or I need a slower speed to actually examine what’s in front of me. It’s teaching me a lot about being a writer, a photographer, a creative, and I’m starting to see that I was meant to be here. I’m making my way to my point.

Photo Credit Joseph Lapin, Ocean Beach Pier

Photo Credit Joseph Lapin, Ocean Beach Pier

I believe in signs. Yeah, I know that sounds bizarre, as if when I finish this blog I’ll pull a Ouija board out of the closet and start asking questions to the spirits. I just believe that the universe lines up in certain ways, and if you’re watching closely, then you’ll see some sign or symbol (whether I’m attaching this association to the object in my mind or not) that clarifies something you’ve been battling with or trying to understand.

For example, when I first graduated from college, I was living in Detroit with my wife. It was a tough year, because it was the beginning of the recession, and I was living in one of the hardest hit cities in the country, trying to make a living (without any contacts) with a degree in literature. The winter was long that year in 2008, and I was working at a YMCA cleaning dish towels. One day, I was sitting on a picnic table we had in our backyard, and I was staring at the snow covering everything. The powder was fresh, and I thought that time of the year the snow would have stopped. At that time, I was applying to graduate school, and I had already received about six rejections. The snow was thick, and it was on the branches, the fence, everywhere.

I remember looking up at the sky, wondering if I should pray or not. I wasn’t really a praying person at the time, so I just started talking out loud. I remember asking, if anything was going to change, please send me a sign. I wanted to know that I was sent to Detroit for a reason. I needed an answer. I needed something to happen. That’s when a red cardinal swooped down into my yard and rested on a tree branch. The entire yard was covered in snow, and the cardinal was so bright against the snow that it felt that a spot light had shined down on me from above. I understood, then, spring was coming, and life would be better. About a week later, I received my acceptance letter into graduate school.

So what does that have to do with San Diego? Well, I’ve become accustomed to looking for the signs, the small signals that let me know I’m on the right path, and this weekend, I was wandering around my new backyard when I saw a poster underneath one of the trees that the landlord had planted. The sign was an Apache Blessing that I had read at my sister-in-law’s wedding. I spent a long time thinking about that blessing. It’s just something small, but it lets me know that my decision was right. What are the odds that our landlord would have the saying plastered in their backyard?

I finished a new story last week, and I sent it out for some copyediting. Hope to start seeing if someone will publish it. I’ll keep you posted. Your comments are always appreciated.