It’s been about three weeks since I moved back to San Diego from Tahoe. The life I was living there couldn’t be more different than the one I am living now. After being back with my parents for about two weeks I knew living together was going to be difficult. After living in Santa Cruz for 2 ½ years and then living in Washington D.C. immediately followed by Tahoe, it’s been forever since I’ve actually had to live with them and abide by the rules of their house. I told myself after college that I was never going to move back home. I saw it as a sign of failure after working so hard as a student and then choosing to make the move to D.C. to pursue an internship that would help me with a career. Leaving D.C. was never part of the plan I had imagined, but I realized while I was there that I had to. I had to give a past relationship one last chance, I knew I couldn’t be satisfied in D.C. as long as I had those what ifs lingering in my mind. I moved to Tahoe because I thought that the person could have been the one, and I had to see if I was ready for that type of commitment. I don’t regret leaving D.C., part of life is making impulse choices and following your heart.
Once I was in Tahoe and was supporting myself without the help from my parents or student loans I was convinced that I would be able to do it for the rest of my life. Although I was having a ton of fun and eating up the independence, I was ridiculously poor. However, we got by and were never really in need of anything we couldn’t obtain. When Tahoe abruptly came to an end I was forced to go home. I saw going home as a blessing as much as it was a curse. I knew that it would be hard to rearrange my life to fit the expectations of my parents, but I also knew that it would be the best way for me to save money and study for my graduate school exams. I also saw it as a way to get involved with some local organizations and do some volunteer work that would help me narrow my interests in what I wanted to pursue later in life. I was home for about nine days until I moved out.
Although I was at the top of my class at Santa Cruz and finished an internship in Congress, I am back to being a nanny. I’ve worked with children for as long as I can remember and the pay is killer, so I keep finding myself in this position. This time is a little bit different. When I started looking for jobs two weeks ago I had no intention of ever being a live-in nanny, but when I got an interview for one in San Juan Capistrano it seemed as if it were meant to be. My parents had told me to find alternative housing, and my relationship was over and he was possibly moving out of the area we’re from. I didn’t want to sit and wait around to see if he actually was going to, and if he wasn’t there was no way I could move forward if I knew he was a ten minute drive away. I needed to change my life and get out of my hometown. This job only required me to work half the week, rent was covered in a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood only a few miles from the beach, and I would be able to make enough to travel within the time that I’d like to. I went on the interview and fell in love with the family and knew that it was the job I needed.
I’ve never been a fan of Orange County, and being up here only reinforces why. I moved to Santa Cruz to escape a materialistic society. In comparison to Orange County, San Diego now seems pretty mellow, but I miss the way Santa Cruz radiated in a way that no where else does. I like that people have funky unique styles, that everyone shops at thrift stores, that people are radically liberal, that activists can not only find an audience but also people that will join their cause and support them in a march downtown, that there is an anarchist café, and most of all, that you can be anyone you want to, no matter how different, eccentric or bizarre. In Orange County I feel like someone dipped a giant paint brush in a tub of watered down white paint, and then washed the whole county in one stroke. Everything is so… bland. Every shopping center is a duplicate of the next, and on every corner there is a Starbucks, right next to the Pier One Imports. Everyone drives a Lexus, Beamer, Mercedes, Porsche, or Range Rover, and mega Christian churches are the norm. Don’t get me wrong, I feel ridiculously privileged that I am able to work in an area like this, and that life is so simple and easy up here, but I think that is also what bothers me. People exist in a bubble that is not penetrated by anything other than the norm. There is no poverty, there is no struggle, and their lives are never graced by anything unpleasant. There is no eccentric.
I know that I’m really lucky to have found the family I work for because they’re really good people. The kids are so much fun to be around, and the spoiled behavior I would have expected is absent. I work with two girls, ages eight and seven, and their infant brother.
As I said earlier, my life couldn’t be more different than in Tahoe. Instead of living in a house of people my age, I am constantly around children. Instead of falling asleep next to a twenty four year old man, and rubbing his back to help him sleep, there is often now a baby in my bed whose back I am rubbing. The sound of his breath as his falls asleep is nothing like what I had become accustomed to. There is something so incredibly sweet and innocent about a sleeping baby, as they let out the tiniest moans, that make me fall in love with a child that isn’t mine— until he wakes up and cries. As soon as that moment arrives I am jerked back to reality. Apart from having a baby in my bed I am now cooking dinner for a family, rather than just for two. With kids you have to run every food choice by them, you can’t put sauce on certain things, if two different foods touch they probably won’t eat them, and you have to repeat the same simple meals over and over. There’s no drinking while you cook, there’s no kitchen conversation with your partner or housemates, and there is no blasting music and having dance parties in the kitchen. You can’t take your time and eat whenever you feel like it. Children and families have set times that they eat dinner and kids get cranky if it takes too long and they’re hungry. I’ve come to enjoy cooking so I don’t mind the change, it’s just a very different change of pace. And while in the past “poopie baby” was an endearing term and inside joke that developed between me and a love, it now has taken on a whole new meaning.
As much as I like working with children, especially these kids, I don’t like the changes and sacrifices that it requires from your life. I’m ok with doing this as a job, because it’s temporary as well as pretty easy and fun, but I don’t think I could make this my life. I don’t like how much freedom you lose. I don’t like how much you have to alter your life to fit the schedule of a child’s. I’ve realized that working with an infant means I get to sleep when he does. At six months old he’s calling the shots, and he doesn’t care how tired I am. Children are selfish by nature, it’s not on purpose that they demand everything from you, and give almost nothing in return, other than their presence. On top of that I am a selfish person, and value my time and my freedom too much to compromise with the demands of another for eighteen years. But for now, for a temporary time in my life, I really enjoy working with them. I’m young and have a ton of energy so keeping up with three kids is perfect. And there are the sweet little things about the job that you don’t experience in other occupations, such as baby baths. I don’t know what it is about giving a baby a bath that I like so much, but it’s my favorite part of the day. Their facial expressions in the water are priceless, and for them it’s as if it’s a new experience every time. The wonder in their eyes as they stare at the water flowing out of the faucet. The way they reach to grab it with their tiny hands and then are startled by the temperature or the water pressure on their skin. The way they scrunch up their face when you pour water over their head as you wash their hair. And the way they blow the water off their lips as it runs down their face. They have a distinct baby smell to them as you bundle them up in a towel until they dry in your arms. It’s as if babies have a euphoric high after a bath. They’re so relaxed and their eyes are glistening and their muscles have a limpness to them after sitting in the warm water.
The best thing about this job is that it is a means to an end. It transfers into a plane ticket to where I want to go later this year. I’ve had it in my mind for as long as I can remember and this year I’m making it happen.