There’s a haze over the valley as I fly out, this valley I know so well and mostly love. I can’t see the ocean through the haze, but the fact that I could see it from my window seat is somehow comforting. I’ve not been sleeping again, not because I’ve had too much coffee or have been out dancing and having tasty cocktails all night. This is a pure anxiety cocktail – mixed with a splash of fear, a double shot of excitement and a twist of apprehension.

Yesterday, I signed a lease on my new apartment in the city, wrote a huge check, got my keys, and sat on my fire escape, staring down at the city that would soon be my home. I’m flying back to AZ as I write this, with Kristin Hersh and Jolie Holland on repeat. And tonight I’ll be the recipient of sloppy dog kisses, curled up with my woolly mammoth in the bed I love. Maybe then I’ll sleep. But not for long. Maybe I’ll lay in bed all day tomorrow and try to process all that has occurred in the last two weeks. Maybe I’ll just read. Maybe I’ll stare out the window at the forming storms and rain. But within two weeks, I will have packed my two-bedroom house and returned my fire escape in San Francisco.

I left Silicon Valley six years ago in a desperate attempt to save my soul and keep my sanity from tilting farther off balance. And now I’m returning. Not exactly to the same place. And the circumstances are different this time. This time, I’m coming back for me. I’m coming back on my own terms. A stronger, more secure woman. A woman who will no longer put her needs aside. Does that mean I’ve become more self-centered? No, it means I have found compassion for myself and know that if I don’t take care of me, no one else will nor can I do my part in taking care of those in my life that need it. I have learned so much and healed on deeper levels that I could have imagined in these five years of being in the desert. And now it’s time to say my goodbyes and embrace the change that is in front of me. Enormous, vast change.

My apprehension stems from the increased interaction with my ex and his wife. There is always tension there, on some level, but because of our dedication to Mina’s emotional health and well-being, we do our best to sort things out and stay on good terms. He’s a good man and a fabulous father. Our interactions however, are not always the easiest which is some of why we aren’t together anymore. I used to miss my life with him; we were a good team in so many ways. And then I eventually resurfaced after our separation, into who I really am and realized how much of my being had been suppressed. I learned and grew from being with him. He will have Mina during the school week through December and will finally take over the responsibility that I have had alone for so many years. This part of it all has to be the hardest thing I have ever done. To be without that child who has been my light for almost 12 years… I just can’t imagine. She is a strong little female who is fiercely independent. Her father will report on how well she’s doing, never seeing through it all, but I will. I’ll see the vulnerability and how much her stoic composure has taken a toll on her, during our weekends together. For some reason, this all needs to happen and I trust that we will both be all the better for it.

We’re descending in to Phoenix now, through thick monsoon clouds and smoke from various fires. I’m almost home and I want to sleep. I want to curl up and drink wine and ramble endlessly and senselessly about all that is swirling around in my head. If I only had someone to do this with… And maybe shed a few tears at this chapters end.