Eons ago or perhaps it was epochs, I met a new friend who had grown up in New England but who had recently moved to San Francisco. Her given name was Victoria but she went by Tor or later, when our communication shifted to real handwritten letters, we referred to each other V1 and V2.
In those early days on the west coast, Tor told me she thought California was a tropical oasis: things bloomed all year long and the weather was mild. She often expected a cloudy overcast day would turn to rain even in the summer. To me, that was ludicrous: rain in the summer? Though I spent a few years living on the East Coast as a young child my weather memories were few and the majority of my experience was as a Northern California girl. Rain in the summer is rare. Where I lived it was dry, the moisture coming from the fog which was our natural air conditioning, and fog was always cold.
Eventually Tor moved back to her east coast roots and I would visit her from time to time. One day we were in Cambridge and she said, "Do you see this sky? It will rain." I disagreed. It just looked like clouds. She laughed and said, "We're on my coast now and we better bring umbrellas." And sure enough, it poured buckets.
It was a visit in May 2012 that set the wheels of my own move back east in motion. Tor called and asked for help packing up her parents house in Gloucester; she needed to get the house sold and move her folks into an assisted living center. I had just recently packed up my parents house and knew what she was facing. She offered to fly me out and I did what any friend would do, I packed and I helped steady the emotional journey she was embarking upon. And I knew then that I, too, needed to move east.
Now that I am here and experiencing my first year of very unCalifornian seasons, I find the east coast to be a tropical oasis. Perhaps only for a few months, but the flowers, once they start blooming, vibrantly unfold one into the next. From crocus to cherry blossoms, daffodils, tulips, lilacs, azalea, pansies, peonies, roses and hosta; to milkweed, day lilies and hydrangea, the gardens are teeming with more flowers than I can ever remember seeing. Maybe it's because the winters are bare and long, but for now I feel as if I am in a tropical paradise. The humidity, the warm sea breezes, the hibiscus all whisper to me of Hawaiian holidays.
I am saturated in colour and fragrance, I am drinking in lush green foliage, I am hydrating, absorbing all the beauty imbued in every shimmering molecule in this, my east coast oasis.