Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Finding Home

Angels Gate Park, San Pedro.  Panoramic view of the Los Angeles Harbor.
I had the overwhelming urge to go home today.  Of course, we nomadic lifestylers struggle constantly with the identity of “where is home?” 

My apartment in Long Beach is great – I love the local neighborhood and being able to walk everywhere and get to the beach easily.  But since I haven’t been here that long and I really haven’t shared it with anyone, it’s not really “home” either.  And today, the lack of giggling children and shared memories with the fab hubby just made it feel starkly lonesome.

Looking back, one of my happiest memories was when we were assigned at the Los Angeles field office, the fab hubby's first domestic Foreign Service assignment.  Owen was five, Abby was three and Kellen wasn’t quite a thought in our mind yet.  The fab hubby had just finished training and was a new field agent.  I worked afternoons in a busy ER (which is actually the same ER I work in now!).  We had a wonderful au pair from Australia living with us to help with the munchkins.  We lived near the L.A. Harbor in San Pedro and I used to run every day along the bluffs with the ocean view and Catalina Island off in the distance.

San Pedro.  That had once been home.  I found myself late this evening driving my car from Long Beach toward San Pedro.  Over the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the sun starting to set over the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  I relaxed as I drove along Gaffey Street, intuitively headed toward the ocean.  I stopped at Angels Gate Park high on a hill, overlooking the magnificent port and watched as ships headed in and out of harbor.  I turned my gaze to the mountains – Los Angeles far in the distance to the East.  The view from Angels Gate is just breathtaking.
View of Catalina lsland from Angels Gate Park entrance.

I hopped back into my car and drove as far west as you can in San Pedro to Point Fermin Park.  Where the lighthouse still stands and the Sunken City is visible. Part of San Pedro’s Point Fermin community had once collapsed into the ocean many, many years ago and some remnants still remain, but is off limits to exploring.  It’s still a fun view, and I took the time to imagine what the houses and streets might have looked like before the ocean had claimed them. 

When we lived here in 2009-2010, I ran countless miles along Vista Del Mar, the road that passes by this park.  I trained for many local races and two half marathons that year, all along this road. I smiled as I remembered that my last few runs just before we moved had been especially wonderful, as we had found out two weeks before we left San Pedro that I was pregnant with Kellen.  I would continue to run while pregnant with him until I was seven months along.

LAPD helicopter flies in from over the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
We spent many family afternoons at Point Fermin Park.  The kids loved playing on the playground, making friends and sandcastles.  I remember the fab hubby starting an impromptu game of baseball with Owen and some of the boys Owen had just become friends with.  I remember the smell of the BBQs firing up and the sounds of picnic tables being set.

Sunset is magnificent along the ocean.  I made it to the park tonight just in time to watch the sun melt into the horizon over the Penninsula.  The smell of the ocean overtook my memory and I breathed deep into the salty air.   A low rumbled horn blasted from far across the water, signaling an outgoing barge.  Catalina Island peaked out from a long distance, and as always, I told myself “gosh, I really need to go visit there before I leave.”

Two people were doing their solo tai chi practice, deftly moving from pose to pose as the sun continued it’s descent.  I remember seeing them a few years ago doing the same, and I quietly continued along the park path admiring their dedication to their practices.

The café across the street was open, and the smell of food and the sound of laughter pulled through the door.  I envied the locals walking in and out of the doors as their hearty words to the owner made it obvious they were known there. 

I would never be a local here, and while it was once home, it’s unlikely to ever be so again.  But the familiarity brought comfort and the memories flooding my mind were exactly what I needed tonight.

The far cliff is part of the Sunken City.
After the sun fully set and darkness engulfed the park, I drove through downtown San Pedro, past the 99Cent store the kids used to love to go to in search of treasured items as only little kids can; the grocery store we frequented; the Jamba Juice I used to treat the kids at.  I saw the Community Center where Abby had participated in preschool and had picked up a bit of Spanish in the process; Owen had learned basketball there, and I happily remembered the coach who put so much effort into helping Owen learn and understand the game.

Dinner tonight was at the In&Out Burger just a block from our old condo.  This brought my mind back to all those late evenings I would arrive home from work with burgers in tow for me and the fab hubby.  He was always waiting up for me outside, sitting on the steps to greet me as I arrived home.  Despite the fact that he would have to be up early the next morning for his job, he would always wait until I got home at midnight from my long afternoon ER shift so we could talk to each other about our day.  Those are some of my fondest memories.

The fab hubby, the kids. the day-to-day minutia of activities and patterns we get into with each other without realizing it.  I suppose that’s what “home” really is, as I try to wrap my head around the ‘where is home’ question we’re constantly plagued with.  Sure it’s hard to explain in words, but the feelings and the emotions we carry from house to house and post to post are what we use to establish our ‘homes’. 

Soon we’ll be moving on to our next post, establishing patterns, exploring neighborhoods, making friends, and creating new memories.  Three months left before we start our next journey ‘home’.   And while I am definitely making the best of my current journey, I am excited about the next prospect of creating a new home together.

Harbor view from Angels Gate.
Sunset over the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Another view of Point Fermin Park --- Catalina Island in distance to the left.

And some of my happiest moments from when this was our home...

Preschool Abby in San Pedro, 2009.

Owen's last basketball game (and 6th Birthday Party!) in San Pedro, 2010.

After a daytrip to Malibu, 2009.  Sleeping kids are so sweet.  And quiet.

First day of school, San Pedro, 2009.
Point Fermin Park.  Was he really ever this little?

Impromtu baseball game.
This is actually at Friendship Park (another ocean-view park!), San Pedro.  Love.

You can't go to SoCal without going to Disneyland!  2009.
Found I was pregnant with this guy just before we moved.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you! What a sweet post. We just finished home leave after our first post and I've been thinking a lot about "home" as we get ready to move again. What a weird life we have! Take care and good luck with everything