When my husband Steve and I embarked on our first voyage across America in September 2021, we thought we were merely looking for a new place to spend our summers, given that we could no longer go to our usual haunts in Canada. But within just a day after leaving California (as I described in my article “Looking for America”), we realized that our home of 38 years in the San Francisco Bay Area of California was likely no longer the place we wanted to call home as well.
What followed was months on the roads of America, crisscrossing the country four times and logging about 17,000 miles in the process. It took us nearly a year to find our new home, which happens to be in the upstate area of northwestern South Carolina. Steve and I have now lived here for nine months. Like many west-coasters and especially Californians who left over the past three years, we’re very happy we decided to make the move. At our age, it was a process that was exhausting and exhilirating, disorienting and reorienting all at once. But we also knew it was now or never. Five years from now and certainly ten years from now, we would not have had the strength to do it.
When I think about what Steve and I went through over the course of 2021 and 2022, it was actually about a search for peace. In truth, I believe that peace is not the absence of war or conflict but, rather, is an internal vibrational sensation. It’s a feeling of alignment, both within and without.
We all live in a stew of vibration. It is composed of many energetic frequencies — the energies of the physical terrain, of man-made structures like roads and buildings, of all the flora and fauna, and especially of the people within the community that surrounds us. This vibrational milieu is also influenced by various emitting technologies that surround us and by the pervasive media we are bombarded with and consume.
Most of all, however, because we are humans and thus naturally most influenced by the collective human frequency that surrounds us, it’s people and community that really make the biggest impact on how we feel. And because each of us also has our own unique personal frequency, we naturally feel better if that frequency aligns with or is harmonious with the greater stew in which we live.
To carry this metaphor a bit further, if you are an “ingredient” that doesn’t jibe with your particular “stew”, you won’t feel so great — both emotionally and physically. You’ll have the sensation that you just don’t “fit in.” You then have two options: blend in if you can, or get out if you can’t. If you don’t, you will likely feel increasingly ill-at-ease and may eventually become quite sick. That is because you will literally be bathed in a state of vibrational dissonance. Of course, this can happen within a relationship as well — as anyone who has been subject to the “bad vibes” of a dysfunctional marriage or family can attest. But this kind of thing can happen between you and the general milieu you live within as well.
I believe that the rather dramatic population shifts that occurred during the COVID years were a direct result of this phenomenon. In general, people tended to leave the “blue” states and move to the “red” states. On the surface, most people gave reasons for their move like cost-of-living factors or crime. But in my opinion, such reasons were actually indicative of a deeper vibrational shift that had occurred in the blue states — a shift that made life intolerable for many people who were living there and no longer “fit in”.
In my last article, “What Happened to Silicon Valley”, I described my own experience of such a shift that began years before COVID. Two overarching things gradually happened for Steve and me over the course of the 40 plus years we lived in the greater Silicon Valley area: (1) our vibration changed and went in one direction and (2) the stew we lived in changed and went in the opposite direction. These vibrations now clashed and we just didn’t feel right there anymore.
Interestingly, however, all of this happened quite gradually and, in the end, the dissonance that eventually shook our world took us by surprise. In particular, we didn’t really wake up to what had happened to the Bay Area until the COVID years. But there were signs long before then.
Our home had once been a major hub of parties and fun in the 1980s. We had so many friends much like us — young, energetic, creative computer people. Naturally, raising a family eventually put a crimp on our partying and fun. But once we reached our empty-nest years, we discovered that we had diverged in values and interests from most of our old friends. Although we did find some new friends that more or less worked for us, our social network had become rather limited. Nevertheless, because we lived in a beautiful country home that we loved, we mostly ignored this change and chalked it up to aging. Occasionally we toyed with the idea of moving to a new location in California or to Oregon, but nothing felt right. In other words, until COVID, we didn’t really see the creeping societal miasma that had crept over the West Coast, but especially over the Bay Area and other technology hubs — a miasma that many have now fled.
Then came the drought and the fires. And then came COVID. By this point, as I described in “Looking for America”, our mismatch from the greater stew we lived within now became starkly evident. With dismay and incredulity, we discovered that we were now actively ostracized from social interactions because we had not gotten vaccinated; even today, this would likely still be the case if we had remained there. But once we got on the road and left the California stew, especially the Bay Area stew (still one of the most fearful and closed areas of the USA), our eyes opened to the realization that we could find a sense of peace and belonging once again.
After our first voyage in the fall of 2021, Steve and I thought we’d give California one more try for six months. After a month I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m particularly sensitive to energy and within just a couple of weeks, the peaceful and rejuvenated feeling that I had developed on the road was lost; I slowly was overcome with feelings of anxiety, fear, and sadness — feelings that I also sensed in others around me. When we began to tell people we were going to move away (especially people who had to work in masks all day, like doctors and service people), they would often remark, “I wish I could leave too! You are lucky!”.
And so our moving process began in earnest. We started trimming back on our belongings and within three months of returning to California, were back on the road again. We left in March of 2022 on our second voyage and by early July 2022 we had bought our new home in South Carolina. We then returned to California, sold our old place as quickly as we could, and drove one more time across the country, arriving at our new doorstep exactly one year, to the day, that we had first left. Talk about synchronicity!
In the end, Steve and I found our America. I’ve thought a lot about what to say about our new homeland. To us, it embodies what we love about this country (a country that I now appreciate more than I ever did before). It’s all about friendly people, safe and wholesome and admittedly “old fashioned” community values. It’s kids playing in the street and putting up lemonade stands. It’s parades down Main Street and music and culture too. It’s parks and nature, caring neighbors, and lots of friends to hang out with. That may sound corny to some people and that’s okay. That’s what we wanted. Our America is the one that feels good to us and where we can blend in as new ingredients in a new stew.
Of course, we are still learning, still finding our niche, still learning the ways of this new place. But there have been positive synchronistic signs all through our process — guiding us on the road and confirming our move after we arrived. Admittedly, the house buying and selling process was fairly bumpy and harrowing, and we consumed most of the past nine months fixing up and making our new home a good fit for us. But that was to be expected.
Nevertheless, I also recognize that for many people, the San Francisco Bay Area is their perfect stew. They love it the way Steve and I used to. Just like everything in life, change happens. Places change and people change and the world changes. The best we can do in each moment is try to be happy and find our place, find our peace.
When I was preparing to write this article, I looked up the origin of the word “America”. For the most part, people believe it derives from the name Amerigo Vespucci, an early explorer of the continent after the arrival of Columbus in 1492. I then found the meaning of the name Amerigo: “ruler of the home, sovereign of the homeland.” The name is also related to “Harry”, “Henry”, and the word “home.”
Well, I guess that says it all. “America” is literally all about finding one’s home and feeling like a sovereign there — not a stranger, not an outcast. Indeed, that’s been the promise of America to so many people for hundreds of years. It was that promise that brought my own father here in 1907. (Yes, my father was born in 1898!) And it’s still the promise for so many who come here today. As it turned out, and much to our own surprise, it’s also the promise that Steve and I searched for when we realized that the place we’d called home for over 40 years was no longer right for us.
In the end, maybe this kind of ongoing quest is a big part of what life is about for all of us — finding a place to call home and regaining a sensation of peace once we do. Blessings to all of you on your own journey! May you find your home. May you find your peace.