23 August 2013

California: Pieces of Home

I’m sitting at a desk in a room lit by a single lamp. It’s depressing in here. I rip a sheet of paper out of the typewriter and look at the ink stain letters with disgust. I typed them but they’re not mine—squiggles and nonsense—stupid. I crumple the paper and smash it into a ball; bang, bang like I’m trying to kill a spider trapped inside. I throw it on the floor. There are dozens of discarded attempts down there, scratching my ankles, irritating me more. I can’t write this blog.

Alright, that is a bit dramatic, but it’s tough to dramatize the delete button. And I really have struggled to write this blog. It’s not that I don’t have enough to say, I have too much to say. I wanted to describe California and discuss its history. I wanted to talk about my adventures. I wanted to talk about family and friends. I wanted to wax-on about the concept of home. I wrote and deleted, wrote and deleted, wrote and deleted. Finally, I decided to stop trying so hard. I decided to strip it down and burn off the blah, blah. This is what’s left; California as a collection of souvenir memories:

South Lake Tahoe
  • Watching my oldest childhood friend get married. Like most boys we had a You’ll get married first! bet going at one time. Ha! You lose! Or win. Whatever.
  •  Catching up with his family; a heart-to-heart with his dad, partying with his brother and sister. Kids all grown up, talking about being kids.
  • Visiting Emerald Bay with my parents. I hadn’t been there, not that I could remember anyway, so my parents played tour guide to their vagabond son. I enjoyed that twist.

Georgetown (Formerly Growlersburg)
  •   Listening to my parents talk about their future. This tiny gold rush town is where they plan to spend their retirement and they are really happy about it.
  •    Setting up a writing studio in my parents pool house/convincing myself that it wasn’t weird for a 35 year old man to be hanging out in his parents pool house.
  •  Taking my niece and nephews on a hike through the woods and telling them tale tales.
  •    Sitting on the back porch with my dad eating beer battered fish tacos and watching a family of deer cross the meadow he calls a yard. He looked like a man who felt lucky.

The South Bay (Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach)
  • Barreling down a hill toward the ocean on a cruiser bike known as The Green Machine and feeling fine.
  • A bonfire on a perfect Southern California night.
  • Sitting in a hot tub with people I love, eating Wheat Thins and taking pulls off a bottle of Jamison's, watching fireworks pop, pop, boom over the Pacific Ocean.
  •   Drinking god knows how many beers with a friend I met traveling; an Irish lad that had been living in New Zealand and just happened to be traveling up the West Coast.

San Francisco
  •  Being in San Francisco.
  •   Helping a friend say goodbye to The City.
  •  Soaking in the sun at Dolores Park on a warm breezy day. Drinking good wine out of cheap cups. Watching weird, wild, wonderful San Fran pass.

  • Seeing that the town I grew up in had changed for the better.
  •  Wine tasting on a Monday. Hearing the lady pouring samples gush about the owner of the winery and thinking, I went to high school with that guy he was kind of a _____.
  •  Hanging out with a friend I met in Prague, who happened to grow up in the same small town. Drinking beers and smoking hooka in his garage like it was 1995.
  •  Spending a day with my nephew that included kayaking, a water balloon fight and scaring people with a rubber snake.

Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur
  •  Remembering that California can always surprise me with its beauty.
  •   Driving over the Bixby Bridge and through Big Sur. There isn’t a prettier drive in the world.
  •  Quiz night at the pub with a friend I met in Thailand. Specifically seeing how much her friends love her. That’s always nice.

  •  A night out with old friends. One more for the road? A lot more than that.
  •  Closing out my America vacation at a Willie Nelson concert.

California was difficult to write about because I waited too long. I thought about writing a weekly post, but decided against it because I wanted perspective. I wanted to weigh each place and decide what they meant to me. And I wanted to settle in. I’ve experienced being away from home. But, what about being away from abroad? What kind of absence would that leave? There was so much to consider and I didn’t want to contradict myself so I waited.

I waited and you ended up with bullet points not stories; boo, hiss, boo. I leave for Saudi Arabia in the morning. My America session is over. Here is what I think I know; California is pieces of home and the rest of the pieces are spread out around the world. Home does not have a lock and a key. Home is the search. Home is where I come from and where I’ve yet to go.

Sing it, Willie

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