Friday, September 26, 2003

California is beautiful. And ugly too, but mostly beautiful. We have majesty and grace, the Pacific Ocean and Sierra Mountains, the lowest and highest elevations in the contiguous United States. I love the history and energy of San Francisco; where cultures and ideas meet, mix and flourish. I love Los Angeles. It is an old and beleaguered city, but I know a few of its secrets, and I have enjoyed the creativity and hospitality of its people. There are a dozen destinations in our county alone that I would count as foremost in the world for natural beauty and wonder. Southern California is amazing for what the people have made, and for what can be enjoyed in nature. A day's drive can take you from the desert floor, to a snow capped mountain, through forests and canyons, to a foreign country, and to the ocean. The Central Coast is a visual delight for its rolling hills that flow from vineyards to the Ocean, draped in fields of golden poppies. And there are places like Ferndale; charming, and proud, a gentle town of old Victorian homes and community values that shine plainly for even a visitor's eyes to see.

I have recently realized that in all the time I have been Blogging that I have not sung the praises of my home state. Yes, I rave about my own little Rancho, but not because I see it as superior to any other place. I love and praise our home, because after having moved 26 times in my life, I have learned to appreciate and enjoy where I am. I live in California, the state where I was born. The state where the Kumeyaay make their home, where movies are made, and where tremendous harvests are produced...where we have the option to recall a governor (right or wrong, we are enduring change and change is inevitable.)

This impassioned little speech of mine comes from sitting politely, and silently for too long. The truth is that there is a great deal of envy when it comes to California. In Minnesota we endured the bumper stickers, "I Don't Give A Shit How They Do It In California" and "California is like Granola: A Bunch of Flakes, Fruits and Nuts." Ha ha. We get the joke, but it thinly veils a lot of bitter resentment. And oftentimes the bitter resentment is plain and rude. The criticism is coming from other places too. Apparently California is mainly composed of malls, mega-stores, and casinos; all places where we can take our ill-gotten gains and gamble them away to our shallow hearts' content. As a Californian I have grown accustomed to hearing an endless litany of putdowns. I won't return the disrespect.

Personally, I endeavor with sincerity and respect, to avoid disparaging other places, particularly if my objective is to elevate my own private universe. I would find no satisfaction in putting down anyone's home, as a means of defending my own. I have driven through a great deal of this country and flown to other places too. I have Blogged the praises of those places. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Ontario; they are all beautiful, unique and worthwhile. And though Hawaii is a remote Pacific Island, ("the most isolated archipelago in the world, lying 2,500 miles from the nearest land mass:" Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc. 1998) I have never implied that it is lacking in anything that could make a person happy and fulfilled. Any of these places, and many more, are places where I could live and enjoy living, and when I mean to make a criticism I will remain consistent; being fair, and avoiding stereotypes and petty generalizations.

Many people have expressed confusion about my feelings, and our plans. They question my willingness to leave the Rancho when I have written so lovingly and happily about living here. They question whether I will be happy in a new place if I leave good friends and familiar places. I don't own the view here, or even the dirt on my feet; those belong either to God or the bank. I have lived here and known that anything can be taken at any time, so I have sought to make the most of my time here, and to openly declare the joy, and challenges, in my writing. My friends are dear to me, and I do not enjoy the prospect of living a great distance from them, but that doesn't have to suggest that a void is being created that can never be filled. Loving my friends and expressing my emotions is simply a reflection of a greater whole; a whole that will change and evolve whether I desire it or not.

Moving from the Rancho is difficult, because I love the view, and the proximity to people I love. Staying here is difficult too. Geoff is obliged to work too many hours for this house, and commute a great distance, as well. The work he does is changing, and so are his desires, though his values and ethics are as sound as ever. My grandparents are in their new homes, so our big house is a little too big. It is okay that I have loved it here and can leave here too; those emotions and plans can exist together, at once. It's okay that I will miss my friends and be sad not to see them every month. More than sadness and stress, I feel a very deep sense of gratitude that we are making choices that are our own, that we are able to serve our family needs, that we are able to fulfill dreams and explore options; I cannot state more emphatically how powerful these gifts are to me. I do not take our love, nor our efforts and blessings for granted. So, yes, this is difficult, but I know the difference between a challenge and a tragedy, between making changes and facing a crisis that can not be reversed.

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