California Re-Bound? The Ongoing Saga of Traveling Golden Trout

It’s been a restful lazy arduous rocky month. I’ve deeply missed blogging. As my life greatly transitions with this snazzy new layout, I certainly aim to blog with increasing regularity. I suppose I should elaborate how California figures (or doesn’t?) into this grand transition.

After a life-changing summer working at camp, I returned home to Georgia on August 10th.  Truthfully, I never thought to be writing this post in the Peachy State over a month later. My metamorphosis over figuring out my life can be adequately outlined into four distinct stages.

The “I’m Going Back to California Somehow” Stage (June to early August)

All summer long fellow staffers would ask me what I’d be doing after camp. My uncomplicated complicated answer? California…somehow. I’d already been living there for two years, and the last year especially saw my greatest ever stretch of growth. Physical growth (half-marathon!), relational growth (plugging into an awesome church and life group), and yes, spiritual growth (oh hey, birthday baptism).

And yet this summer, both of my incredible roommates had moved on from this magical earthquake-ridden land of palmy trees and smoggy skies. How would I live there without them?

Dunno. Which brought me to stage 2 of my metamorphosis.

The “I’m Gonna Rest for a Couple Weeks and Then Go Back to California Somehow” Stage (mid-August)

Yeah, I was quite clueless. But that was all right! I’d just endured an absolutely soul-emptying summer with hundreds of rambunctious pre-teen boys. I deserved a couple weeks just to chill at my parents’ house in Georgia and let God figure out how to transport me across the country. It was a solid unsolid plan.

In the midst of this rest period, I broke ground on an overly due “decluttering” project that saw the disposal of needlessly saved school notebooks, books and CDs, and three large garbage bags of worn/unwanted clothes. I also deleted over 30GB of memory from my hard drive along with several hundred emails.

I was still clueless about my life’s direction, but at least I carried significantly less baggage.  Made me feel somewhat accomplished back home. Still, my cluelessness eventually threw me into an emotional tailspin.

TMZ: Wanderer 1

The “I’m Gonna Wait and Take Action and Maybe Not Return to California Somehow After All” Stage (late August to early September)

Several weeks ago I drove to the north Georgia mountains for an overnight camping trip. I’d gone on nine campouts this summer, so I was suddenly an expert outdoorsman. (Not really.) Amid this quarter-life crisis, I desperately needed the getaway. As an introvert, it was revivifying to drive two hours away and hike four miles up the highest Georgian mountain on the Appalachian Trail. By myself.

Early into the hike, I legitimately wondered if this was the wisest decision. There was nobody on this trail. At times I fully expected to face off with a black bear, and then I’d have to go all extrovert on him with arms and voice raised. Thankfully the trip was bear-free, and I enjoyed some awesome views atop Blood Mountain. Alas, my phone-camera broke at the conclusion of this trip, so I can’t share the pictures with y’all.

But despite the loss of photos and a phone, I gained a ton from this getaway. I learned that I needed to be patient, one. Needed to be open to the fact that maybe God was, in fact, calling me away from southern California, two. And three? I needed to stop waiting around for a banner in the sky or words in the dirt. Needed to start researching options and contacting folks.

Oh, and I certainly can’t forget four: I started/maintained a fire all by myself for the first time in my life. An empowering experience I heartily recommend to one and all.

The “I’m Finally Going Back to California Somehow” Stage (mid-September???)

For several weeks, I earnestly sought where God would have me go next. I narrowed my search down to 5-6 parts of the country where I could legitimately see myself living the next couple years. And while I often felt the pull to start over somewhere new, I could never fully shake the call to return…home. Amid my daydreams and nightdreams about fresh starts and new beginnings, California pangs would pierce my soul.

I’m not sure when exactly the ultimate clairvoyant moment occurred, but within the last week especially I realized what I must do. Job or no job, house or no house, 2300 miles away or not, I had to go baaaaaaaaaaaaack.

I’ve taken some leaps in 25 years. I moved three hours across the state for my first year of college, despite being quite the homebody as a teen. I traveled nine hours across the ocean for the most academically intense summer of my life. And I moved 2300 miles across the country despite never having even visited this foreign land of California.

Now, two years later, I’m once again traveling 2300 miles across the country to this same foreign yet not-so-foreign place. This time without an immediate place to live. And no job. And little money.

It’s a leap I’ve never quite taken in 25 years.

Truthfully, I’m scared out of my mind. On the one hand, it makes no sense to drive for a whole week, not knowing what awaits me when this road quite literally ends at the Pacific Ocean. How I’ll even make a living and survive. And yet on the other hand, it makes no sense to abandon the soul-restoring life I’ve built these last two years. Not quite yet anyway.

Perhaps God will call me away from southern California someday. I’d certainly welcome the adventure of a new journey, despite the loss that invariably comes with moving on. For now though, my wandering prone self feels called to practice staying put for a bit. And that means packing up Mitsy for yet another epic cross-country trip.

Despite some traveling weariness, I depart for California in two mere days. Once I get going again, I’m sure I’ll be fine. I can’t wait for all the videos and tweets and blogs and stories that will come from it.

Which brings me to YOU: do you live close to this not-indigo line? If so, we should totally hang out. And by hang out, I mean letting me sleep on your couch and/or feeding me and/or paying for my gas. I’d be so so so grateful for any level of your hospitality. Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email or a tweet or something.

Westward Ho 2 route

Westward Ho 2. It’s coming. I have no idea what lies ahead, but it’s time to leap and see.

I can’t wait to share the ongoing saga of my life.

  • Elena

    Wonderful, Tom! God is with you every step of the way. Here is one of my favorite quotes:
    “A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”
    ― Carlos Castaneda

    • TMZ

      Wow, absolutely LOVE that quote. This path back to Cali definitely has a heart. So I’m gonna follow it all the way back to the Pacific Ocean! Thanks for sharing, Elena. Solid stuff.

  • Rebecka

    Wow. Thanks for sharing your story. It is really inspiring to read about your journey (spiritual as well as physical). I pray God keeps you safe on the road.

    • TMZ

      You’re so welcome, Rebecka. Thanks for following my journey! Can’t wait to report back soon with how my wandering ways are going.

  • I would totally do all 3 of those things if I lived along that line!!! I’m excited to hear about all your adventures in the coming months! I’m glad we got to hang out while you were here! #1 fan =]

    • TMZ

      Yeah it was awesome connecting with you! Will definitely keep you posted on all the many adventures to come.

  • Glad you are getting some clarity and discernment! I like the part that your hiking trip played into this, and hear you on the bear scare (I’m not a gun owner, but I actually own bear mace… cuz we all know that’s a bear’s worst fear, right?!?). Way to take the leap.

    • TMZ

      Pretty sure if I held a can of bear mace I would do something disastrous in the case of a bear emergency. Like spray it toward the wrong part of the bear or accidentally turn it on myself or something. Ah well, bear crisis averted! Thanks for the encouragement; a-leaping I go…

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