Just a California Girl

I was raised on the beaches of Newport. There, I learned that all you need to reset a hard day is sand between your toes and a dive into salt water. That even when the waves pound you against the sand or take you under where you don’t know which way is up, or a rip current threatens to take you out, the very best thing you can do is stop fighting. Let go and relax into it. It doesn’t come easy, but when it clicks and you pop to the surface or finally find calm waters, you realize all that fighting only exhausted you, not the ocean.

And so it is with life. I left Southern California after high school graduation and headed to Dallas, only to almost immediately realize I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the coast. That at that time in my life, I still needed access to the salt air. So I transferred to UCLA, and I frequently drove to Malibu to study and write my papers on the beach.

Life then took me to Colorado, which feels as much a part of me as California, simply because of all of the life that was experienced there – the most beautiful of times and the absolutely most tragic of times. When my life imploded, I came back to family and friends in Newport. I knew I needed to let go and let the sea of grief push me to shore.

But, grief and growth go hand in hand, and I knew that my life would only come together if I went out on my own, so back to Los Angeles I landed. I found myself couch surfing in West Adams and Santa Monica and Burbank and Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills, and, then, with a hope and a prayer and less than $1000 in my checking account and an even less than predictable client list, rented myself my little apartment in West Hollywood. That is where Kate 2.0 was born. I walked everywhere and learned to relish dining alone and grabbing a drink at the Formosa, which was right around the corner. I ran miles and miles around Lake Hollywood and processed the most complicated and profound grief I have ever experienced. I trained for my first marathon. I ran 5. I dug out of a pile of financial mess left behind and started a law practice that supported me and allowed me to stand on my own two feet.

One of the greatest gifts of my time as a reproductive law attorney is that it brought me to my now husband. In the wildest of ways, we met, and I knew my life was about to shift into a new adventure. After swearing I wasn’t going to enter a relationship, I found myself moving to Venice, where we shared some of the most amazing times of my LA life. Venice, at the time, was magic. The perfect blend of beauty and quirky and you never knew if you are going to find a surprise in your carport the next morning. It breaks my heart to see what is happening there now. In Venice we experienced love and loss, and the highs of love (he put a ring on it! and then twins!) and lows of loss (infertility and miscarriage). Venice was a chapter I will always hold close in my heart.

When it became clear that twins and the way Venice was changing might not be ideal, we headed a bit south to Manhattan Beach, where we were spoiled again with daily ocean views and magical sunsets and babies who grew up thinking the beach was their front yard.

The last 5 years in El Segundo taught us how “Osher Strong” we are. We were recovering from the loss of two men who were so very much a part of our lives. Health issues and accidents. At times it felt like life was completely off kilter, but we still had sand and sunsets and each other. It also showed us to dream big and that holiday lights really do make everyone happy.

Covid gave us a magical summer on the Central Coast, and it took me back to my childhood, before Newport became “the OC.”

Bottom line, I am the only Native Californian in my family. I rejected that notion more than many who also can claim that status for many, many years. I always felt more connected to the East Coast, and then to Amsterdam, Paris, London and Ireland.

Give me a museum, a bookstore, a great chocolate shop and theatre, and I am happy. But, I always FELT happier across the country and across the Pond.

The truth is that I am a California girl. California gave me shelter in every storm. California gave me a magical childhood. California gave me family memories and childhood friends I still consider my best friends on Earth. California gave me opportunity and growth. California gave me my husband and children. California is in my blood. It always will be.

Now, home is middle Tennessee. We have a home, we registered our cars and it is official. Truthfully, we haven’t looked back. And it feels so very, very right. For all of us. We miss our friends and family, of course, and our sunsets look different, but we feel at home. And it really does feel pretty great. The uncertainty of what comes next still gives me anxiety at times, but California taught me well.

I just have to let go. And float. Just like the Pacific showed me all those years ago.

5 thoughts on “Just a California Girl

  1. So nice to ‘see you again’ Kate!! I’ve always enjoyed reading your blogs….you have the ‘gift of words’. I’ve been so moved by what you’ve written over the years.

    So many have moved out of California this past year….sounds like you made a good move, and I’m happy to hear that you are enjoying Tennessee!
    Wishing you the best and look forward to reading more about your adventures!

    On another note, I’m a photographer, based in Danville CA (N. Calif.) and do work in Orange County as well (have family there). If you have friends or family that find themselves looking for a photographer (Newborn, Family, and Seniors), I appreciate referrals. Thank you!

    Pam Callahan
    https://pamcallahan.smugmug.com

  2. I love this. This resonates with me from my move from Newport Beach to Maine almost 30 years ago. I still am that California girl at heart. Thank you for putting in to words things that are in my heart.

  3. We miss the 4 of you, but are so happy you have started your new chapter. Your love letter made me wish I had done the same 16 years ago when I left NY for LA with nothing but my last unemployment check in hand. Reinvention is scary and amazing all at the same time. I hope you continue to update this blog with all your new TN adventures! xoxoox

  4. Katie,
    You amaze me with your ability to share with such grace, care and connection. I love and relate so much to this. It’s California Gold!

    So glad you guys are loving it there in Tennessee. BiG LOVE to you and your boys (Natie included).

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