Bilbo Baggins, Hobbit extraordinaire, titled his memoir, “There and Back Again,” to which I can relate as here I am back in Capitola, California dubbed Camelot by some and The Village by others. I call it “The Shire.”
I first came in 1982 for lunch. I clearly remember the table where we dined at what is now Margaritaville, overlooking the creek where ducklings swam all in a row behind mama duck. Looking past the beach toward the ocean sparkling in the sun, with the ever-colorful Venetian condominiums dotting the sand’s edge, I was enchanted. I turned to my dining companion and said, “Why don’t I just live here?”
I found a brand new house within walking distance to the village, I worked in a small real estate office which was formerly a Pie Shop that had the cutesy cottage look. I sat at my desk next to a wooden sash window which opened onto the sidewalk. During the summers my two kids were in the Junior Lifeguard program just a couple of blocks away at the beach. When the morning session ended, they would walk their sandy selves to the window, where I would hand out pizza money and they would get slices at Pizza My Heart on the Esplanade, go across the street to Polar Bear Ice Cream for a cone, and return to mom’s window to signal the work day was over.
Everybody knew my kids, and everybody knew me; without being obvious they looked out for the two sandy kids – one towhead boy and one raven-haired girl, in the red bathing suits. It was safe. It was The Shire.
My vow to my Gypsy self was to stay put until I could see these kids from Kindergarten through high school graduation, and get them launched into college. Then this empty-nester would fly the coop! I was ready to spread my wings, and fly back east looking for my New York Jewish roots in Miami Beach. But that’s another story.
So there I was sitting in my folks’ little house in Costa Rica, after a five year adventure in Florida, contemplating where to go next. I got an email from an “ex” in Capitola suggesting we get together if I were single and available. Boy, was I! So back to The Shire I came and embarked on a journey with so many twists and turns, I felt lucky to get out of it alive. And that is yet another story – a doozy!
I simply had to get as far away from it as possible. I packed up lock, stock and barrel, and off to Costa Rica I went. This time with what I believed to be my true love, my soulmate, my Prince Charming. I was sure of it! Absolutely, no doubt! And then it imploded two years later. Broken-hearted, soul-sapped, and spirit flagging, I limped back to – where? Yes, The Shire!
As Al Pacino of The Godfather said, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!” There are worse places to be pulled back into. It’s just that, for me, everywhere I look, I see ghosts. You know, all my exes live in …Capitola! Well, maybe not ALL, but plenty. Most I greet with a smile and a hug, but then there is the one – the wolf in sheep’s clothing. For him, I need the invisible protective shield. I have learned to conjure it up on short notice. You never know when you turn a corner in The Shire who will be standing on the path.
A couple of days ago, on a bright sunny Saturday morning I got a text from my beautiful, wise, yoga-teaching friend, Christina. “What are you doing in half an hour? Beach walk?”
Yes! We trotted around the village, up and down the seaside hills overlooking the picturesque scene, and reminisced about out magical Yelapa Retreat with Reverend Deborah Johnson. As I opened up about my struggles with being back in the Shire, Christina reminded me of Rev Deb’s words: “What needs to be healed is revealed.” As we stood on the bridge overlooking the sparkling beach, she reminded me of the healing nature of Capitola itself and that I was right where I was supposed to be. Her wisdom and kindness brought me to a beautiful space with new perspective.
She helped me see through new eyes. All this time, I have been seeking the Unicorn, I should have been looking in the mirror. I am my own Unicorn! I am a free spirit. The Shire is my healing ground. I am happy. I am on the healing path…in The Shire.