California Memories 9/11 '22
<< part of my continuing series recording memories to assure myself I've actually been to the places I think I've been to>>
Whew, California. I lived there for most of my 30's, so I could fill a book. But instead, this much shorter entry:
When I was a child I recall my father once musing about having met some people that "smiled a LOT". Like so much so you noticed and wondered if they were selling something. When asked, it turned out it was just that they were from California, and smiling a lot was normal for them. So for many years, my concept of California was that it was a place of Hollywood, hippies, and people who smiled a lot. And that it was far away - I could never quite remember the difference between Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego... all were interchangeable in my head.
When I was looking at grad schools, I did apply & get accepted to Stanford and USC. But again, California was far away so I opted for CMU in Pittsburgh instead. Slight regrets on that front. Kinda wish I would have made it to California in the early 90s. I wonder how my life would have been different.
In the mid/late 90s I first visited California and the city identities solidified. SF is the hippies up north, somewhat seasoned by Silicon valley tech. LA is Hollywood and beaches. San Diego is smaller and warmer and the border town. I had an all expenses paid vacation in the San Diego area (some perk that came with my first husband's job) and got to experience the gas light district, Coronado island, and had an excellent massage from a woman who was the masseuse on staff for the Icelandic olympic team. Around 1995 I started working remotely for a San Francisco Bay Area software company. Though I continued to live in New Orleans, this meant occasional trips to SF. I distinctly recall walking around SF one early visit thinking to myself "I could live here" - which was a rare thought for me: living in New Orleans set my bar pretty high for other places I was willing to live. I liked how SF was walkable, with good transit, nice climate, and flower vendors on the street.
In 2005, after Katrina devastated New Orleans, I took a job just north of SF in San Rafael. I moved to SF and lived there until 2011. In my years there I was a city girl - goth clubs and sidewalk happy hours, wine tastings and harbor cruises. I had yet to experience the joys of the great wild outdoors - no hiking or camping for me then - unless you count Burning Man. In 2006 I was talked into my first Burning Man by my then roommate. And while I wouldn't call Burning Man "life changing" for me, it certainly has influenced much of my activities in the years since.
SF has this ambient level of zaniness that I love. It was always nice to get home from a trip and to see something like a grown man in a tutu and viking helmet nonchalantly taking his chihuahua out for a walk. No one would even raise an eyebrow. Wish more places vibed like that.
When I make it back to California these years, I typically go to Los Angeles. I have a good friend there who throws lovely events in his house. Plus a few times I've been to "The Labyrinth of Jareth" masquarade ball held in downtown LA. Two of my favorite things to do in LA is Kura conveyor belt sushi and the Wii Korean day-spa.
I might add some more detailed memories in the future but for now I'm closing this entry. Yes, I've been to California. I lived California. And I sometime still miss California most desperately.