No matter where you are, you’re there

Last week marked the third anniversary of me leaving California to move home. It’s stored in my brain’s filing cabinet, being pushed further from memory except this time of year. It was a bit of an ordeal, now it’s just a fact.

But I do think about the last time I fished with my buddies as a California resident and what’s happened over the past three years. I’ve fished with them since, but it was an odd feeling that last day on the Stanislaus River. 

We stood at the tailgate of my buddy’s truck and retold the highlights of seven years worth of fly fishing trips. Fly fishing was a way to better the part of our lives not spent at work. 

The thing about good stories is they rarely require success. Good stories need things like goose attacks. Good stories require forgetting sleeping bags, fly reels, fly boxes, nets, tent poles, or food. Good stories need face-plants, broken rods, holes in waders, broken waders and flooded waders. We had had plenty of those and more, but it was ending, at least the California versions.

That night, a dozen friends came over for a bonfire of broken pallets, old papers, garbage and other artifacts that didn’t make the cut for Alaska. The next morning, I left. 

The thing is, I almost returned to California just after leaving. Mom’s medical issues resolved better than we could have hoped, there was no teaching position in Klawock or Ketchikan, and my old job at my old school opened up. 

I had helped Mom and could resume my life in California. My stuff was sitting by the front door, ready to be swaddled under a tarp in the back of my truck and driven south. The job hadn’t been officially opened or officially offered, but it would. I was moving back on a promise. 

Then Kayhi called with an English job. I literally answered the phone as I was packing my truck. Just as I had accepted and was excited about California, I had the chance to stay. 

I don’t know if it’s one of those “meant to be” sort of things because I don’t think life leads you around by a leash, tugging you in the right direction. In the same way, I think we have the freedom to make the wrong decisions and screw everything up. And yeah, there are days when it’s cold and rainy and miserable and I get text messages from my buddies catching brown trout on sunny afternoons down there when it’s rainy and too dark to fish here. It sounds nice, you know, warmth and sunlight. But nowhere is perfect. That’s one thing I have learned during my time in Ketchikan. The one thing that stays constant no matter where you are is you, and if you spend all your time wondering about other places, you’ll probably end up miserable.

I’m not tempted to move back, though the call of brown trout, warm water, Buffalo Wild Wings and old friends sure makes me happy to visit.

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