“The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted, Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.”
— Walt Whitman
To my fellow transplants: Have you ever wondered if we chose Cambria? Or Cambria chose us? Like the stray dog or cat that turns up on our doorstep, we take them into our home and heart and think it is our choice. I’m not so sure.
Karmically speaking, I believe it was their choice; we simply acquiesced to their silent call. I’m thinking of that marvelous Cole Porter tune, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Cambria’s like that.
(Aside: One day, a very long time ago, I went to my county landfill and was promptly singled out by the one stray kitten that didn’t run for cover. I named him Cole Porter; he was a great cat whom I loved dearly for 16-plus years.)
Before arriving in Cambria, my mantra is to take part, get involved and make an extra effort to assimilate. I write up “to do” lists every day: Rent a mail box at the Business Center. Check. Join the Joslyn Recreation Center. Check. Get a library card. Check.
Then there’s dealing with the unexpected: shipment delays of Ula’s prescription dog food (Cambria Veterinary Clinic to the rescue!). A fender bender — in the driveway! — and a $500 deductible down the drain. Rats! What seems like the never-ending delay in my car arriving from Virginia and another week in car rental fees. Sigh.
One of my first sensations after a two-year absence is how different I perceive the familiar landscape of Main Street. While I’ve been a landowner here since 2007, it feels different now that I’m here with the “kids.”
I’m not experiencing Cambria as a tourist. My daily routine is totally different. No more leisurely days dining out for both lunch and dinner. No more shopping in boutiques or marking off wineries to visit on the tourist map.
Instead, I’m poring over the “Castles and Cottages” insert in The Cambrian and spending untold hours driving up and down every neighborhood in Cambria, using a yellow highlighter to track my path on a street map in search of a house I (a) can afford and (b) want to buy.
There’s a huge gap between “a” and “b.”
The Cambrian is my lifeline. I circle events and activities that appeal. My first local phone call is to reserve a seat at the Newcomer’s Club luncheon. The second is to get more information on the mah jongg club at the Joslyn Center. My third is to one of the very few people I do know in town, Joe Prian, my trusted real estate agent (now broker) from years ago.
We navigate the awkward waters of my flying solo, he shows me a house I’ve expressed interest in, and he gives me a lead on horse boarding. Yes, I’ve left 1,300 pounds of my heart back in Virginia. As it turns out, logistically, it’s a far simpler matter to move my horse here than the rest of us. It’s also way more expensive. But that’s another story.
Back to my first Newcomer’s Club lunch: I am overwhelmed, not only by the warm welcome, but the collective accomplishments of the attendees. Cambria must be a magnet for the seriously accomplished (I’m not one of them). Hopefully, many will become friends. And, for the first time in a long time, I experience moments of genuine joy and sense of purpose.
Next up: The Cloths of Heaven.