Waking up from the California Dream

When I was 10 years old, each one of us in our 16-person elementary school class was assigned one of the United States to research. I got California. I'd left New Jersey only a handful of times for car rides to Vermont and train rides to Florida (yes, train rides not flights). I think there might have been a trip to Baltimore, too, but that was it. At any rate, I had never been off the east coast, and when I was researching California for my state project, a romance had begun. "There was Disneyland over there, miles of vineyards, mountains, and movie studios! The weather was sunny all the time and people were happy all the time!" thought my 4th-grade self. I had to get out there.

With a father who feared flying and a mother who feared defying my father, it took me years to get on a plane, and even longer to get on a plane that wasn't going down to South Florida, where most Jewish elders retire and where my parents' friends live (for reference, my father is older than most of my friends'--he's turning 72 next month). I'm lucky I was able to leverage Sino-Brazilian thesis research and graduation requirements as a way of getting overseas--my family couldn't stand in the way of my collegiate success, of course. Still, it's quite funny I went to China and Brazil in Summer 2011, a while before I got over to California for the first time in January 2012. And I'm not even sure I'd call my trip in January 2012 a real trip to California. My time was primarily spent hanging around at a Stanford coffee bar (the "CoHo") as I worked on the aforementioned thesis. 

This time was different. I touched down in San Francisco after a heavily-delayed flight out of Portland. After practically drowning in rain in Portland, I got emotional at the scene outside my plane window: it wasn't just sunshine--the land was literally bathed in gold. I'd only continue to discover the beauty of the place while hosted by ET and taken under her creative wing in San Francisco (the next time I visit, I hope to see her perform at an open mic and take a class with her as a newly-certified yoga teacher)! Berkeley was charming, too, and DG and RM happily humored long walks down the main street there as I pored over the many menus of its very vegan-friendly and sometimes gluten-free-friendly restaurants. But I couldn't let myself fall for California, and I won't--not unless I hear good news about graduate school out there!

It was a great way to end the trip, but I'm quite happy to be back in Boston. Nearly 3 weeks as a vagabond is more than enough for now. :)