We’re exploring California in October when we go there for a friends wedding. Starting out in LA, we’ll find ourselves adventuring to Palm Springs, Big Sur, Southern Sacramento, Yosemite, and back down to fly home from LA.
I love California. Born there, I always considered myself a California girl. The song detailing why California girls are better never really said because they swear a lot and have glorious tattoos, but I’ve still always felt a kinship to the song, and place. But for as much as I love it, I hate it. Trying to figure out our itinerary forced me to look at a map. The state is big, but when you’re moving the curses around, pulling a coast in and out, trying to find the beach beach hotel on highway 1, your eyes pull east, in land, and see names of places blurred by hazy memories of traumas must sooner forgotten than relived. As big as the state is, those names, even for small cities so few people have heard of, seem to be a central point of every search. It’s unavoidable I guess.
I’ve lived in too many places to remember. Before I turned 11, I had never attended one school for a full school year. From 11 to 15, I stayed in one state, but attended at least three different schools. For a few wonderful years, I has a stability I never knew in a small town in New York. I made friends, I made a place for myself in the world. I began to realize I had individual interests. I began to realize I has an individual power, both internally and externally with my words, spoken and written. I guess I began to develop into the person I would become. Yet for as stable as it seemed, there was no true stability in a life such as ours. As soon as the comfort set it, a promise wrapped around a firm lie lead us away from the small heaven we were fortunate to call home, at least, for a time.
I should have gone back to California. Back to my Grandmother and Grandfather, back to beaches, back to a sunshine that didn’t dull my hair. I was supposed to ride that Uhaul all the way across the country until we reached the place I always longed for. I was also supposed to grow to 6 feet tall so I could play college basketball. I was also supposed to be a super model on the side. I was supposed to ride a god damn horse for my eight birthday. I was supposed to be beautiful on the inside and out. I was supposed to be a trooper. I was supposed to do a lot of shit, but that wasn’t the time for me to take the reigns on any of it.
I didn’t see that ocean again until my Grandfather died. By that time, I was already a women; I was no longer the girl dreaming of all that was supposed to be, I was a person resentful of all that wasn’t and would never be. I was an eighteen year old delinquent who had dropped out of school to work at taco bell-the open schedule gave me more of a chance to have sexual relations with dudes way too old to be dating me. I was a person who could no longer see unicorns prancing on the waves of the Pacific. I was just me the…whatever or whoever I was supposed to be was gone.
Now I go back when it suits me-and in truth-it never really suits me. The glean of what it, that gigantic state with so much to offer, was supposed to be to me, has faded. My Grandmother is there, and for her I will go. Friends have moved there and have begun their own lives, and for them I will go. My husband has never seen mountains such as those, nor an ocean so bristling with a secret sadness, and for him I will go. But I never go for me. The home I thought it always would be washed away with all that was supposed to be. The names of cities, full of hate, disrepair, anguish, torment, and a hell I still haven’t escaped, haunt me when I look at a map…when I am there, the very thought of them scares the bejesus out of me. A city can’t hurt you. A city can’t torment a frail mind. But the memories of a time, in that place, those can hurt even the strongest person.
So I avoid those places. I don’t need hills when I can climb mountains. One valley is as good as the next, and I don’t need to see the ones that stretch the very fabric of my sanity. I will travel highways I have no memories of, I will create adventures all our own, with no attachment present of past lifetimes and past people. I will go for all those I love, and find a California specially made for me.