Muddy. Like the murky shallows of Trinity Lake when the waters have drop-drop-dropped and sucked the shoreline muck into red clay pools swirled with yesterday’s bath water. Like the ash falling from nearby fires, engulfing an entire state in smoke and soot, a sickly yellow fog no place should ever see (let alone breathe). My thoughts were hazy.
Who am I? And why am I here?
I needed distance. Distance from the he-said-she-said. Distance from the rush-rush-rush of hurryupandwaiting. Distance from the clammy humid-cloud that enveloped me the moment I opened my front door.
In all of my years in Tennessee and abroad, I have never been so homesick.
I flew West on July 12 and cried when I landed at the San Francisco International Airport. I laughed when I heard a passenger complaining about California’s gun laws. I smiled when I shivered as I walked to my rental car. I was home.
Home with all of its myriads of problems is still home.
I spent three weeks visiting friends and family. I played with my 15-month-old nephew. I sorted through childhood memory boxes and read old letters and journal entries. I relived my twenties like a movie watched in reverse—this is who I am; this is why I’m here . . . Here not only in location, but in body, mind, and spirit. Here in loyalty. Here in love. I’m here I’m here I’m-here I’m-here-I’m-HERE.
It’s raining today in Knoxville, pouring buckets in a fashion California rarely sees (and sorely needs). I’m not home anymore. But this is home for now, for reasons I must cling to, no matter life’s sea.
Well everyone, I suppose I can’t — or at least shouldn’t — put this off any longer. (Actually, I haven’t been putting it off — I’ve been slammed . . .) The time has come to wish you all a happy holiday season. So, Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!! My holiday decor in Tennessee is pretty simple this year; I flew to California this past Monday, so there was no reason to go “all out” 2,000-plus miles away. Still, it’s nice to do something . . .
In an effort to get into the holiday spirit before leaving Tennessee (it had/has been a rough few weeks), two Friday nights ago I participated in the Tour de Lights Knoxville holiday bike ride. It was a 5-mile loop in downtown Knoxville for which many people decorated their bikes with Christmas lights and garland and dressed up in costumes, etc. It was fun, but it was COLD! It was 29 degrees and my hands were freezing by the time the ride was done. Next year I’ll cheer from the sidelines.
Since then it’s been a whirlwind. I went to Santa Rosa on Tuesday to see friends and to work in my office, and, last night, before I headed home (to the fam), I went out to see some of the fire damage. It was too dark to take pictures, but the scene was unreal. My heart is broken for the whole community. Here are just a couple pics from a hike I did at a local park the previous day with friends. These don’t even begin to do justice to the extent of the structural damage in the city. Those who lost their homes (there are thousands) are looking at a rough holiday season this year.
Yesterday (Christmas Eve’s Eve) was eventful, too. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say life tough sometimes. (Or, all the time? The jury is still out for debate.)
In any event, I apologize for this haphazard post, but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! I’ll touch base again soon!
A friend of mine from the South used to joke that California was going to fall into the ocean. We “left coasters” couldn’t quite get our priorities straight and were headed toward oblivion.
I learned a lot of other names for my home state from my friend — the “wrong coast” and the “land of fruits and nuts,” to name two — and, after living in the Bay Area for a few years, I have to admit that some of them seem appropriate. There are a lot of crazies in California. And don’t even get me started on politics or the cost of living.
That said, California is still a beautiful state and will always be my “home.” Just as you can’t control the color of your skin, you can’t control where you’re from; California with its wildly good weather, breathtaking scenery, and vibrant diversity is a big part of what has made me, me. Continue reading →
Visited friends in California and seen the damage from the fires in Santa Rosa. The devastation is unreal. Although tragedies like this happen around the world every day, this one hits particularly close to home for me. It will take years for my old community to rebuild.
Surprised my dad by showing up in Sacramento for a fund-raising ride for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which my family was doing in honor of my nephew, Oliver.
Chilling with Oliver
Just after the big surprise :)
He’s a happy guy!
(Don’t think I’ve mentioned it on my blog, but my six-month old nephew has cystic fibrosis. This was a surprise to the whole family — no one in our family history on either side has ever had the disease. It’s quite rare and requires both parents to be carriers. It’s really unfortunate and shocking for us all. That said, Oliver has stolen our hearts and is doing well so far!)
One of my favs
The start of the ride
Early and chilly!
Since returning to Tennessee, I’ve:
Completed my first ever academic book review (and probably bombed it).
Questioned my life decisions and choice of a masters program. (Prayers appreciated!)
Attempted to write more poetry and failed miserably. (Not giving up, though. Maybe I should get a masters in poetry so I have more time to work on it?)
Seen my first concert in years (Blind Pilot) and discovered an amazing British guitarist/vocalist, Charlie Cunningham. (Check out his song “In One Out” below.)
Me with the lead singer of Oregon-based band “Blind Pilot”
Me and Charlie Cunningham
Decided to move to the UK — lol . . . no, seriously.
Become completely fed up with American society as a whole — oh wait, that’s not new.
Found out that a college friend my age passed away yesterday at the age of 33. Life is too short, folks. Embrace it — even the sucky parts.