We are now two years and four-some months into our move from Southern Ontario in Canada to the Inland Empire in Southern California. The distance is something like 3000 km. A year ago, when Americans would ask me how I like it here, I would say, "At first I was pretty hostile," because I am incapable of necessary politeness sometimes. I have been homesick, especially at this time of year, when a person raised in a climate with seasons has to act as though nightime chilliness is the same as winter. My four-year-old, who, I can admit, doesn't listen to reason, is still wearing sandals in December.
I have been writing and thinking about living here, about the drought and then the San Bernardino shooting and then this Trump disaster, as a person who has dual citizenship, who is both insider and outsider. I have now taught and worked here. I have a story coming out soon that was my first story set in Riverside. But I am still very much in a processing stage, a stage I worry I'll never leave. I feel unable--more unable than ever--to say anything conclusive. What is an American? What is a Californian? I have some inklings, all easily trounced by exceptions. Can an inkling be trounced?
I have also had trouble processing the changes in my writing career. In 2014, when we arrived, I was working on The Amateurs as my thesis project. I was writing about portals and feeling like I'd just gone through one. In 2015, I received the publication deal I had been dreaming of. I wrote several drafts of the next novel. And then, just this month, I discovered that my novel's publication will be delayed: not 2017 but 2018. This was disappointing at first, of course, and now I'm fine. I don't want publication to be so important that I don't know how to live without it.
I have observed people going through the stages of publication--not the editing stages, but the emotional ones. I have a fear, always, of becoming unhinged by surreal or new experiences. I am protective of my sanity, mostly because I am in such need of writing: I don't want publication to affect my ability to write or my love of my craft.
Adam and I have both gone through enormous transitions in the past few years. He has gone from graduate student with little hope of employment (the odds are staggering) to a person with a tenure-track job in Philosophy. I have likewise gone from striving to a certain amount of accomplishment. One thing you learn is that all those things you learned during that striving stage were the important things: how to love your work when there is no hope of succeeding in any material way, and how to do it even when you don't expect to be rewarded for it.
And now I have the political situation to give me other things to do. I'm connecting with others in the community here who are worried about what is to come, and what this election has already wrought.