There is a strange juxtaposition occurring in my internal life now. This odd fissuring of who I was and what I want to be creating an anomalous sense of instability. I suppose I write this in part to define this sensation to myself, as well as to others. I’m only just beginning to comprehend how drastically and suddenly my life has transformed (as it often does) and exactly what that means.
I grew up in the mountains, on the shores of a lake so big and blue it’s sometimes called “The Lake of the Sky.” I grew up playing in the woods, beneath towering pine trees, in the coarse sand of a dozen alpine lakes. I spent summer nights under stars that burned bright silver in a velvety, blue-black sky, the milky way strung across it like a gossamer veil. I walked home under those stars in the freezing winter, the only sound my own breathing and the crunch of my boots on the snow. I grew up with camping trips and bonfires and hours of hiking trails. With snow days and hot chocolate by the fire place and socks damp from snowmelt. My legs were always covered in scratches from running through the brush in shorts. My arms were always sunburnt and freckled from hours spent beneath the high, hot summer sun. I built forts by the river and spent autumn evenings writing in my journal on a rock in the middle of it’s lazy flow. My youth was an idyllic one, I must admit, with a closeness to nature that made the woods a sanctuary and the wilderness a church. But by the time I was in high school, I wanted nothing but to flee the silence of that cathedral. I wanted light and sound and motion. The rush and press of city streets and the chatter of a thousand voices lulling me to sleep each night. Thats the life I imagined for myself when I was a restless, angst-ridden teen, adrift in a town where I didn’t really connect with anyone. Those were the years I dreamt of San Francisco and New York and a career as a fashion designer or magazine editor. I had grand schemes of a cosmopolitan life full of glamorous parties and beautiful people and opulent clothes. I wanted art and music and lavish parties attended by interesting people from all over the world. I wanted to drink in all their stories, all their varied experiences. I loathed my small town and what I deemed to be it’s small-minded people. I was convinced I belonged elsewhere, in some bright and glimmering city.
Now I want something somewhere in between. I want the art and culture and creativity that I found dripping off the walls of San Francisco’s multi-colored victorians. I want the community and collaboration of living around a bunch of like-minded people; artists and musicians and writers and creatives of all varieties. I want a bold art scene, a raucous music scene, a plethora of culinary options to choose from. But I also want stars over my head and the quiet of the deep dark night. I want early mornings with the mist on the mountains and the sun creeping across the window panes. I found my soul depleted by the constant noise and rush of the city, by all those people, all those stories, all the endless things to do. I found myself strangely overwhelmed by it all and there was a longing for that old peace, to escape to the solitude and silence of the woods once more.
Ojai is it’s own little bubble of juxtaposition, a tiny town nestled in one of the few East-to-West running valleys in the world. It’s considered by many to be an energetic vortex, and is well known for spiritual retreats and it’s artsy-hippie residents. I have the strange sensation of being called here, summoned by some external force whose intention is still unclear. Before a few months ago, I only knew of Ojai peripherally, vague mentions of this beautiful place from friends, the suggestion that “Ojai and you would get along famously” from a dear friend whose grandmother lives here. And then, as I got closer, the word Ojai came up again and again for me. In books, on podcasts, in movies, in passing conversation with strangers and friends. J visited Ojai with his mother while I was working in San Francisco and he called to tell me “You will absolutely love this place.” As soon as I set foot on it’s soil I knew, this is where I want to be. Everything about it felt so right, from the towering mountains that ring the valley to the eclectic citizens that roam the streets, I fell instantly and irrevocably in love with Ojai.
I wake up every morning to the sound of roosters crowing and I watch the sunlight stain the mountains outside my window. I go to sleep each night to mockingbirds songs. I took these photos on my porch, as the sun slipped down towards the horizon and the valley filled up with gold. The contrast is sharp to where I was only a year ago, with the sound of the city right outside my window. I am sometimes still surprised by it, the strangeness of how drastically my life has changed in the space of a year, but I also find myself exuberantly happy. Thrilled each morning to wake up in a place so naturally beautiful.
outfit details | knit top :: thrifted | woven leather belt :: vintage | blue high-wasted shorts :: vintage | flats :: reef