As someone who grew up on the East Coast, California represents the wild and free. The place where the sun sets over the ocean, and where you are gifted 3 hours of lag time every day.
In my early 20s I took a few trips out to Cali, and I distinctly remember the feeling of walking out of the airport and having a wave of expansiveness rush across my body. To me there is a vastness of possibility inherent in the land and air.
Last year in 2014, I moved out there to follow my heart - in love, and in life. It was not an easy decision. As much as I followed my heart, I also teetered back and forth with it, questioned it, got lost in it, broke it, and caused the breaking of other hearts around me.
In the spirit of keeping some things sacred, I won’t share the specific details of what happened in my love life or in my family life (at least not right now), but I will tell you that I ended up moving back to New York after 6 months.
I could’ve looked at the decision to move back as a failure: the Jersey girl who gave it a try but was too attached to her East Coast roots to roam wild and free in sunny California. (And that thought did cross my mind a few times.)
But instead, I embraced the decision as HOME. Not only feeling super clear and sure that New York right now is where my home is - that I actually do like to be closer to my family in New Jersey and physically connected to my friends here, and that I’ve built roots for my career here that are still growing - but also that having a bit of California in me is a part of my home. I can have both.
And so, on March 9th, 2015 I got on a flight to Newark, NJ, taking a piece of the Wild West with me.
Here’s the letter I wrote to myself, that pretty much sums up what I learned - and am still learning - from California. I thought you might need to hear it, too.
Here’s what I want you to remember:
The earth is vast and spacious - and it’s yours to dance in. Don’t hold back or shy away from taking up space.
Dancing every day is what your body and soul need. Do not forget this.
You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness but your own. The right relationships will make both parties happy when both are being true to themselves.
You function best when your truth is spoken and your heart is clear.
Dancing is a political statement and you are part of a larger women’s movement.
Inhale fully and receive the world around you. If you deny yourself this essential nutrient, you cut off your ability to give and serve.
I’ve always lived in you, you just forgot and spent too much time searching in outside places.
I also found this piece of writing I had done 5 years prior in 2010, when “East to West” meant “Brooklyn to Jersey.” It couldn’t have been more on-point:
“Home is not where the sun comes up or goes down. Home is where the moon lives inside of her. She has lived amongst the east and the west and the hot active lava of the in-between. She knew her home all along, even when she thought she was lost or forgot to feel the earth beneath her.”
And all that is preparation to say this to you:
Wherever you live, whoever you live with, you take a piece of them with you.
Don’t judge yourself if you need to move around or move on.
Just keep coming back to what’s inside of you.
Connect to your body and dance.
You will find your home.
sending love on your journey,
your east & west Jess
p.s. I will be back in California for a short time in late October! Teaching at Soul Camp (Oct 28th-31st - click here for more details on that) and I’ll be offering a limited number of private dance sessions and workshops in the LA area prior. If you’re out there, I’d love to dance with you, so please send me a note and let me know if you’ll be around!
p.p.s. The lessons from California and all the sentiments I wrote about today are actually part of something new I’m creating. (Why? because creating dance is how I make sense of life.) I’m beginning a new dance piece which will be performed as part of the You Can Dance Again show on October 8th and 9th, and I’ll be documenting my creative process in it via Periscope.
If you haven’t joined that app, I suggest you do! All of the broadcasts are raw and real and I’m posting something pretty much daily. My intention is to even more fully let the walls down and share more about what it’s like to channel feelings and ideas from life into a piece of art.
Find me on Periscope with the handle @jessgrippo
Here's an example of a recent "scope!"