This post is dedicated to California. Sure, I could just quote any Red Hot Chili Pepper song, but in my experience this state has fully ruined my ability to be as happy anywhere else. The level of beauty, diversity, culture and resources it has is indisputable, and it is probably more aligned to my needs and values than any other place. I could even live in LA.
I’m sure California came first, and molded said needs/values of mine to fit its cultural topography. But I totally consented, knowing that I’d end up in the Bay Area long before I’d ever been there.
Like many people, my first time visiting California was unforgettable just in terms of sensory overload. I was around 11 when my mom took me to Santa Barbara to where my aunt, uncle and cousin lived. First of all, we went for winter break, so in addition to escaping the snowstorms in Ohio, we got to experience a bizarrely tropical Christmas and New Year’s.
Santa Barbara was created from a completely different palette, with alien flowers that looked like swans and dragon scales, palms that drew the eye up towards a sky bluer than berry punch, and skin in all hues. People wore clothes which were tiny and beautiful, although it was hard to notice because their bodies were so distracting.
The land produced more bounty and everyone had citrus trees in their yards, causing a pang to our hearts because half of them would never all be eaten or appreciated. We went orange picking, and my mom ate nothing but oranges for breakfast and lunch for the rest of our stay. My aunt bought an avocado to use in her California rolls, and I was not sophisticated enough to handle or enjoy something that looked like an egg and tasted like wax.
This was also a time I was going through a lot of changes and discovering the world, so some instances were coincidental–like my aunt’s homemade cheesecake, experiencing jealousy for other kids, and seeing my dad as an individual person. These had no relation to California, but I’ll still associate them with that time and place.
It’s open-minded and friendly culture is what makes me fall even more in love with the state as an adult. You still have challenges like a growing divide between the rich/poor, high rates of immigration and insufficient aid/understanding towards new cultures, and environmental drains…but put in the same position I’m not sure any other state or country could be any better at dealing with them.
Sometimes I threaten to move to New York, and recently had a job interview that would’ve been happy to give me the opportunity. But I know that I’d come back after a few years of hard partying–and I realize that I could just keep partying here. In the warm, patchouli embrace of Californian land and people. (Yes life is just a long party)