top of page

California Dreaming

After Dan died I kept busy, working on his website and legacy from our home in Maine and returning to the ranch in Colorado when needed. The remoteness of both places was good, both for work and dealing with my grief. In 2015 the ranch finally sold and I lived full-time in Maine. I have wonderful friends there, and they filled our home with good juju and got me out and about from time to time, but I knew this wasn’t where I wanted to spend my silver years.


My mother died in 2017, my father in 2018, and time seemed more fleeting and fragile than ever. Then the pandemic hit and the isolation of the island started pressing in on me. I began to think seriously about where I wanted to retire. I had originally planned to return to Santa Fe, but during a trip there I found myself continually bumping into bittersweet memories of Dan. I knew nothing could ever compare to those heady days of our courtship and wedding.


I seriously considered moving to Shropshire, in the lush green hills of England, one of my favorite places on earth. Perhaps the warms waters of Florida, or Hawaii, where my mother and grandmother were born? But no place was tugging at me hard enough to make me leave the house we had built on the Reach, and so I stayed. I was still mulling all of this over last September, when I returned to Lompoc, California for my 50th high school reunion.


I hadn’t even considered California. But while dancing with the kids (now adults) that I’d grown up with, I felt a sense of familiarity and belonging. I spent the next two weeks revisiting the places where I’d progressed from a child to a woman. Santa Maria - where I left college and my job at Denny’s to perform in bands five nights a week in San Luis Obispo, Shell Beach, Pismo Beach, and Grover City. Solvang - where I ended up ten years later, performing solo and getting my first paintings into art galleries. Marriage, divorce, marriage, so much history! And it was more beautiful than I’d remembered, or maybe I was old enough now to appreciate it.


Usually, after a trip, I’d return to our home in Maine and thoughts of living elsewhere would fade. This time, though, I walked in the door and realized I was already gone. After three weeks of looking online, I found the right house. It was older, and would need some work, but it had everything I needed. Twelve hectic weeks later, amid snow flurries, I quickly loaded the kitties into the car and drove west, just ahead of the first storm of the season.





Growing up in the mid-west, Dan would watch “Where the Action Is” and dream of someday meeting a California girl. I was lucky enough to be that girl, and I know he would be happy to see the woman I’ve become, back where I began, painting, playing music with new friends, and dancing with old friends among the vineyards and palm trees.

5 Comments


matisun
Jun 29

God bless you Jean, woman of wisdom, courage, resilience, strength and oh what a bright spirit you are! So happy for you in your new life- wishing you glorious adventures! I’m in Carpinteria and i hope someday we shall meet on the sunny shores of California. Blessings beautiful lady! Matisun

Like

beverly
Jun 18

I love your story Jean. I always connected with Dan and wanted to marry him as did just about every woman. I recently relocated to the central coast (Arroyo Grande) from San Diego. I would love to find you at a venue somewhere up here and here your wonderful stories - both with and without Dan. I felt connected to his soul. and I am also going through the same thing with my boyfriend - advanced prostate cancer - he never got checked . Sad thing is that he was a doctor. .............Thanks for sharing your life with all of Dan's fans but you are one special lady to have captured his heart. A short time with someone yo…

Like

Deborah Lighty
Deborah Lighty
Jun 16

Happy for you Jean. You waited for the spirit to move you with the help of your roots at the 50th class reunion. Just had my 50th as well and also our last with perhaps the exception of a breakfast or picnic gathering.

The distance of time renders no meaning once gathered and no spirit of rivalry nor cliquish groups remain.. truly one of the best reunions.

It is always welcoming to go home. My your journey be filled with love and anticipation of new endeavors.

Lititz Pennsylvania is a lovely area for the work you offer. Check us out.


Like

mar4e
mar4e
Jun 15

Still Dan's beautiful California Girl! I wish you joy in your new life, Jean!

Like

lancefranklinmusic
lancefranklinmusic
Jun 15

A wonderful commentary on the transitions we all face. The heart knows the way.

Best to you Jean and your return to home. As you state, "music with new friends" -I

know in my life, music has been my life saver, the piano and guitar my floaties.

Like
bottom of page