What does my friend miss most about New York during his stays in Cambria?
“Bagels! I miss a decent bagel!” he hollered.
We all laughed, but he wasn’t kidding. I’ve three sets of bicoastal friends, who split their life between East and West coasts. They all agree: “We are so lucky to be able to experience the best of both worlds!”
Teachers, therapists, writers, engineers, some retired, some not, some bought a house here while the others enjoy their favorite vacation rentals. Two months, two months twice a year (winter and summer — weather extremes back there!), four months for three years or 15 years … they have all embedded themselves in our beautiful little village.
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Taking classes, teaching classes or volunteering with local charities, a break from shoveling snow doesn’t mean a break in routine. Some can work via the internet so continue to do so but enjoy the ocean and Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. The ranch is another unifying point. We all love being able to have such a lovely, large hiking experience right outside the back door!
While there is a massive and amazing park in the middle of NYC, it’s not quite the same. New Hampshire and Boston are also beautiful and have exciting and fulfilling activities. But, as one friend said, “I just notice a drop in the energy level. It’s so, so much calmer here. I can actually relax, even with household duties and company … it’s different.”
My friends have all come to understand the idiosyncrasies of our small town, such as the frustrations of gawking tourists (“Ha! You want traffic? I’ll show you traffic!”says Mr. NY; being from L.A. myself, I know he’s right, of course!). And they feel the pain of watching the forest suffer from the drought. They do their share to conserve our precious water and are even getting familiar with some of the Cambria characters who are fading into memory (Farewell, dear Diane Richardson).
Some of them have put their voices out there, as one friend did in her one-woman stage show, or their works of photographic art in galleries and businesses. They have all shared the beauty and quirkiness of our fair village with friends and family, respectfully, as if it were their own. Because they make it so, a chunk of ever year.
Not like the second homes that rarely hear footsteps down their halls, creating ghost neighborhoods in some areas as they lie vacant, no neighbors to chat with or confer with — these homes are muddied and loved. My friends come ready to get damp in the rain, to get sand in their shoes, to listen to the latest gossip around town. That’s how you get to make a place yours: listening.
Many of us feel extremely fortunate to be able to call Cambria home, and it may take all we can do to stay here. Some others are more fortunate to experience two lifestyles. Lucky, they are. They’re the first to admit it. But, I can tell you, my friends worked hard and they work harder still to embrace our village with as much love and respect as us long-timers do. Another case in favor of “immigrants,” perhaps?
Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian.