Year in Yosemite: It's Official
It’s official. I am now a country girl. I know this because I just spent the last week in Los Angeles. My daughter Karis and I went down there for a few days and had an absolutely fantastic time. Because of Yosemite’s tiny population of year-round residents, my daughter’s friends are few and far between. In Los Angeles, she is wildly popular. For three days she had a play date with a different friend every couple of hours.
Ditto for me. I don’t know if I’m wildly popular but I do count myself lucky to have a large group of extraordinary friends. I had breakfast, lunch and dinner dates and still couldn’t get everyone in. That’s the great blessing of Los Angeles. Having lived there for decades, I’ve had the good fortune to create a family of friends where the bonds of love run true and deep. So why aren’t we hightailing it back to the city?
In a word: the quiet. Los Angeles may have hustle and excitement and great restaurants and gobs of endless entertainment, but it can’t begin to compete with Yosemite when it comes to silence. For whatever reason, my daughter and I can’t seem to get enough of it. We drink it in like ambrosia. It seems to calm our souls.
This is not what I thought would happen when we took up residence here. By nature, I’m social, chatty, and out-going. I never spent a moment in nature (aside from summer camp, which I loathed) until I was 22. I was in love with cities and everything they had to offer from shops to restaurants to museums.
My husband is at the other side of the spectrum. He’s quiet and calm, gracious to everyone but a loner at heart. He spent his childhood playing in the woods and now, surprisingly, he craves the noise and bustle of the city with exactly the same intensity my daughter and I feel for life in the park. This has come as a shock to anyone who knows us. Everyone was convinced that Jon would take to Yosemite like the proverbial fish to water and I would run back to the city within weeks. But the opposite has held true.
So here’s my theory. Contrary to what anyone would expect, I think ADHD people like me do best in a quiet setting. My mind has a tendency to bounce around like a jackrabbit, so there is something about the utter calm of this place that makes me feel alive. At last, the constant chatter in my head is forced to take a breather and I can concentrate—at least more of the time. The same holds true for our daughter. We moved here because by second grade the noise and constant movement in a typical big-city classroom were literally driving her to distraction. She could not focus and we were hearing about it from her teachers on a daily basis.
Still, much as I love it here, I feel a permanent sense of ambivalence. Living with someone who dislikes what you love is not an easy task. My husband and I have what I call a “Gift of the Magi” marriage. He’s forever giving up what he wants to make me happy and I, in turn, try to do the same. That leaves us with two loving people at cross-purposes.
On the final leg of our journey back to Yosemite, Karis started to talk about missing her L.A. friends. With my husband in mind, I said, “You know honey, we can always move back to the city.” “No way!” came the vehement cry from the back seat, “I need the quiet.” That afternoon it was rainy and dark on the drive home along Highway 41. The pine trees looked black in the deepening gloom. In and around them were luminous golden and red-leaved oaks and aspens, making the forest seem lit from within. Shocked once again by the startling beauty of this place, all I could say was, “So do I, baby. So do I.”
-- Jamie Simons