Deep in my heart, a little piece of me will always be in California. I miss my "home" state - the place I grew up and loathed the entire time I was there, never quite realizing the little piece of heaven I had. One thing about loathing a place until you leave - you learn to appreciate each place you live for what it is after that.
Often people ask me why I would live in the Midwest versus going back to California. I always come up with several reasons - California is/was too expensive, there was no way I would have been able to afford my Master's degree (Hello FREE in Michigan), I never felt I fit in, my family being there kind of ruined it... the list goes on. These things are true in degrees. The thing I know today is it was the path I decided to take in my life.
I am where I need to be today and I am happy about where we are. I could have continued to rush and run across the country, never resting my head in the same home/apartment for more then 10 months at a time but we decided not to for obvious reasons (children) and not so obvious reasons (planting roots is a GOOD thing!)
Yet, my heart still yearns for California, for the things I thought I hated but also for things that are part of me at a cellular level. I understand that somewhere deep inside of me I will always be a California girl at heart, that I still secretly hope that we will return there one day to buy a little house near the ocean and take long walks on the beach, to bury my toes in the warm wet sand and drink in the sounds of the ocean - seagulls, water lapping at my feet, kids shouting, radios playing, joggers kicking up sand, boys yelling to one another about this wave being good or that being a good place to body surf or skim board. Even if this never happens I like to think about it all.
Those carefree days that some times get me through the days when I feel like life is getting to me. It is my little place to escape to in my head - the spray of salty water on my face, the pleasure of looking out onto the beauty of the ocean, the laid back attitude that permeates those little beach towns I used to hang out in on long hot summer days, the smell of eucalyptus in the air near my favorite beach, hanging my tan legs from the fence near Pleasure Point watching the cute surfer boys doing their thing.
It is not just the beach that I miss - though I will say Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay are by far my most favorite places on this earth - I miss my friends that I have lost touch with long ago, people I spent many hours, days, weeks whiling away the hours, causing trouble and being silly.
I miss swimming outdoors and being tan pretty much year around! I long for those lazy days of summer when we took the "shame train" (The County Transit bus system in San Jose) to the mall and wandering around looking for cute boys!
I would love to eat some fresh Mexican or seafood from the local hunts, the dives where most people failed to realize how wonderful the food was, yet!
I miss driving up to Stanford to "go shopping" at the fancy mall. I miss the campus of Stanford, the beauty of that place, I miss downtown Palo Alto. The nights I spent as a teenager dancing to weird alternative music at clubs in places like Palo Alto when I was much too young to be doing this.
I miss the 49ers (Gawd love me for being such a flipping die hard fan!) and the A's and the Giants. I miss sitting with Dad in the upper deck on a clear hot day watching a game I did not care for expect for the fact that I was hanging out with my dad!
I miss San Francisco even though I always hated it when I lived there, mostly for reasons that had nothing to do with the city itself. The clang of street cars, driving up the hills of SF and thinking will my stick shift car make it and then holy crap will there be a road that goes down because all you see is sky going up. Golden Gate Park and a million other little memories of time spent in around that park for festivals, picnics, and family wanderings. The MUSEUMS especially the de Young!
Every moment spent traveling up and down the coast of California from the Redwoods and Yosemite to Baja CA (Mexico) and San Diego - with a million locales in between. NAPA! The crazy hellish twists and turns along PCH or Highway 17 - the feeling of danger & thrill driving on those roads brought to me!
There is so much more. Some times I turn off the memories because good or bad they can overwhelm me. They can drag me down rather then lift me up but mostly they lift me up. It is always that little dream I mentioned of burying my toes in the sand, watching the ocean, and the life that happens on the beach that brings me the most happiness!
I will always be California dreamin' no matter what. I hope to one day share some of this with M and Baby Pancake. I hope one day I can go back and while I know it has changed, we can re-capture some of things I love about California and pass them along to my children. One day...