I am back home, slightly woozy but none the worse for wear. The Great Unbonding was a failure, in the sense that Olga and I failed to unbond, but it was a success in the sense that we got her settled into her apartment, and had some fun doing it. It was an exhausting week. We drove something over 1000 miles during the week, 400 of that on a quick overnight visit to see my father and stepmother at their home on the far side of Los Angeles. Sadly, I had never managed to see him since he moved there a couple of years ago when he remarried. He is clearly supremely happy, however, and it was very satisfying to see him doing well.
That visit also gave Olga an opportunity to discover that she has relatives on the West Coast. Our last name is fairly obscure: there are maybe about 150 people in the United States that share it. She was convinced that the west was family free, but my father called in the clan, and she started meeting some of my cousins. One is a hospital administrator in San Diego, another is with the LAPD, and a third is a doctor in Seattle. She didn’t meet all of them, but my father’s efforts still bore fruit. Olga immediately recognized and appreciated the quirky, even socially inept, sense of humor that the family shares, and started to feel that there would be people who were willing to be called upon if the need arose. In a new environment, that knowledge is comforting.
Still, most of our time was spent getting her situated in her apartment just off the UC-Santa Barbara campus. She is sharing it with another graduate student, and I was gratified to find that it was what I like to think of as a starter apartment. Two bedrooms, two baths, small, with a little age on it — anybody who ever lived off campus in either undergraduate or graduate school would immediately recognize it. I became a little misty when I first saw it. How many of these places had I lived in! I resolved to come home, sell the house and move into a starter apartment myself. Sadly, my wife will likely veto the plan when she returns from England, but I am fond of it.
It is a good situation, though, for Olga. She is a couple of miles from campus, and only a mile or so from a shopping center with all the necessities (a bakery, a Borders and an organic growers’ farmers’ market on Sunday afternoon) and the more mundane (grocery store, drug store, etc.) She will not have a car, instead relying on her bicycle and the bus system, so close proximity is a genuine plus. Just as important, at least for a Deacon Dad, an Antiochian parish, St. Athanasius, is also within pedaling distance. Olga attended on Sunday, and reported that the choir was incredibly good, the people were friendly, and that one of the priests was from South Carolina and spent some time talking southern to her.
All of this is in a lovely place. Santa Barbara is nestled in a slender strip of land, with the Pacific Ocean on one side, and high, jagged mountains on the other. It is immensely beautiful, and the ocean breezes keep the place cool. I was deeply impressed.
Eventually, though, the time came to leave, and it was a little difficult. As a family, we are uniformly introverted, and it is hard to make transitions very suddenly. Nonetheless, I took my leave, although two hours later, when I found myself stopped dead in traffic on the freeway in LA, gazing at the Wilshire Boulevard exit sign, I had to ask myself why, exactly, had I left. I understand people living in Los Angeles ask themselves this question on a fairly regular basis.
In the event, I’m back home now. Marina and I are holding down the fort, along with Max the Wonder Dog, as we await my wife’s return. I have not adjusted fully. In court today, my mood was horrendous. I snapped at the judge, snarled at opposing counsel, and worst of all, was openly critical of the brand new, just opened, courthouse in which I found myself. Believe me — things can only go up from here.