Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm a Californian Now

I’m from Iowa. But now I’m a Californian. I just realized this last week when I was visiting my sister in Colorado. We were talking about our dad who passed three years back and his wife who passed last year and we both realized we have no reason to go back to Iowa now. Furthermore we really don’t have the desire. Iowa is nice but what made it worthwhile was that we had my dad and his wife there. Then I started thinking about my life in California and it dawned on me that I’ve lived in California a lot longer now than I ever lived in Iowa. I lived in Iowa from the time we moved there from Chicago when I was a year old until I was 27. Now I’ve lived in California for 37 years. Ten years more than Iowa.
The metamorphosis began in 1972 when I went to Arcata to a Transcendental Meditation retreat at Humboldt State. I clearly remember the small town of Arcata and the wonderful little hippy shops and natural food found there. I also remember the smell and peace of the redwood forest. It was all so charming. I felt really good.
The next step was in 1976 when I visited San Francisco in January. I got on the plane in a blizzard and stepped off the plane into Nirvana. The view of the hummingbirds in the bougainvillea in the garden on Guerrero Street was enchanting. I thought I have to come back here. When I went back to Iowa it was freezing and as I started off down the stairs in my apartment building to my job where the boiler was out and we had to wear our winter clothes to do our work I vowed “This is the last winter I’m going to be in Iowa. I’ve had it.”
The very next year I was back in the Mission and that was that. Now I’ve lived in each section of the Bay Area and beyond. California has its congestion but that’s about the worst of it. Everything about California suits me. Before I went to Colorado I took an online test “What State Should You Be Living In?”  You guessed it. California. Maybe that and the realization that there’s no draw for Iowa anymore clinched it.
I always said you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. Now that I live in the country here in California Iowa doesn’t even have that draw. So while I’ll always be from Iowa and proud of the fact I am now a Californian and I’m very happy with that.

On the hill above our ever-dwindling lake.

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