Tuesday, October 04, 2005

california moment

Originally uploaded by an awfully serious girl.
A good friend who had been in the same place as I am, years ago, recently wrote to me of her California moment, when she finally realized where she was, it finally sunk in: staring at a planter of bright red salvia.

Mine did not come with the palm trees, thick, prehistoric squatters. Mine did not come with the terra cotta church, orange against the sky, or the sky itself, constant blue (forget what they tell you…it is blue and clear).

Tell me what it’s like there, my friend Lauren asks.

I say there are many colorful houses in pastels, close together, dotted on hills. Mine did not come with the colorful houses. Mine did not come with the hills. Mine did not come with the boy in the bright robes walking down the street. Mine did not come with cable lines crossing above the street. Mine did not come with the figs in the grocery store, my basket full of bright primaries.

Mine did not come with Phantom Planet singing: “California, California,” though I wanted it to.

Mine came with tomatoes, making bad stir-fry with tomatoes and squash and peppers and rice. I stood at the sink, peeled a sticker off a tomato with my fingernail. Then I read the sticker. It said: California.

The water was running.

California, I thought.

I love driving 280, the 101, the sand hills, the scrub brush. I love the little key that opens my garage door. I love using my parking brake in my driveway. I love seeing every combination of families: crazy-haired kids, crazy-dressed babies, dark-skinned kids and light-skinned fathers, or light-skinned babies and dark-skinned mothers, or two fathers. I love hearing languages.

I love when the buses go by my window at night, and it is dark, and I can see my reflection in the dark window, at my desk, the white glow of the apple on my computer, my silver desk lamp, my jade plant in its copper pot, my brown hair in its ponytail, my rust-brown candle, my black scarf looped around my neck and gray sweater.

I know what I must look like from the street. I look like a girl who is onto something.

This is first place I have ever lived where I cannot hear a train, that horn of escape and city and freedom, that beast who bears you out of the small town, out of the cornfields, out of your heart and your love and your life.

For once in my life, I don’t think I need it.