Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Four-Day Weekend in So Cal

A return to my land of birth, in the most unexpected of contexts--when Shane invited me to come with him, I was dubious. We have really been dating for a very short while. Shane allayed my concerns. He helped me realize there was no good reason not to go.

That is how I found myself on Friday afternoon, holding Shane's hand, in front of the ticket counter of Virgin America in SFO.

It was such a bizarre experience being back in So Cal. The FEELING of So Cal was palpable. San Francisco has always been a puzzle to me in that it feels like California, but it definitely does not feel like the California in which I grew up. It is difficult to quantify. Southern California, however, no matter how long I am gone from it, will always feel familiar and comfortable, even while others may perceive it as preening and stressful.

The weather was ridiculously idyllic. While I heard about freezing temperatures back East, the weather of So Cal which invited tank tops and shorts seemed to mock the nation and declare that while it may be part of the U.S., it still dwells in its own reality.

In fact, L.A. seemed to be putting on its best colors, as if to beguile me on my return, to seduce me back to its tucked valleys and bumper-to-bumper traffic. While L.A. is obviously warmer in the winter than most places, it is never THIS warm. The skies were insanely clear, barely a tinge a smog showed, which, in fact, just served to give the sunsets of my weekend a beautiful blood-orange stain.

It felt good to be back in So Cal. It is my home. It always will be. Others may judge it harshly, but there is something of it in me, and I will always understand it in a way I think only those who have grown up here can. Perhaps I will indeed return after my post-graduation is complete. Sometimes I yearn to be back behind the wheel of a car, and, in some ways, I think it would be wonderful to begin my adult life in the place where I saw my childhood end.

*As a note: I often refer to "we", this would include some really wonderful people I met in L.A., including Phillip, Donna, Jess, Kevin, Ronny, and Larry.

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