What Does Starting a New Life Mean?

Muir Beach – one of my familiar places to walk

Here I am, six weeks into moving to California from Florida, two years after my husband’s death.  I’m struggling to find my balance, a sense of fit.  I have to build a new life from scratch, but what exactly does that mean?

When we moved to Florida from New England 5 years ago, it was for Larry’s comfort.  We were a couple.  We moved into a community of couples, with activities for couples.  Quickly we started building a new circle of friends, and then a new circle of support from doctors and support groups we discovered.   Though I was still working, the bulk of my energy and attention went to ensuring Larry’s well-being, as far as was possible.

Now I’m alone.  Yes, I have my daughter and her family nearby.  And I love our visits.  But I can’t live her life.

So I’ve been thinking about what I need to do.  What I need to find.  What I need to create to have a good life here.

What are the components of a good life?

I Googled it.  Family.  Friends.  A sense of purpose and meaning.  A sense of belonging – of fitting in.  Of community .  Of familiarity.  Fun.

Ok.  I have family nearby and I have been heartily enjoying that.

I’ve been making a few acquaintances on the dock – people living in the nearby houseboats.  But it takes time to turn an acquaintance into a friend.  It takes time to feel like you belong somewhere.

I am working and I love my coaching and my clients so I have a purpose and meaning , but it’s all virtual. And even though things are starting to open up, COVID is still a factor.  There aren’t a lot of ways to meet people.

It’s an odd feeling.  A pretty lonely feeling. I’m usually pretty content to be alone.

In some ways I felt less alone rattling around in my big house in Florida, even without family nearby.   Maybe it’s because everything was familiar.  The arrangement of furniture in the rooms.  The views out the windows.  The placement of stuff in the kitchen cabinets. The roads I walked the dog on.  The roads I drove for groceries, or for a walk on the beach.  I knew how to get places without using Google Maps.

Here everything is different, unfamiliar.  Getting anywhere requires a lot of concentration, nevermind navigating always with GPS since I don’t know my way around.  I’m trying to find a balance between exploring new places and going back to a grocery store or walking path I’ve already found.

I guess the bottom line is that this is a work in progress.  You don’t build a life in a few weeks.   Familiarity and comfort take time – like breaking in new boots.  I have a wonderful opportunity to practice patience, never one of my strengths.  I figured out how to live in the present while Larry was dying.  I have to relearn that skill.