The other day, for the first few disoriented moments of consciousness, I thought I was in Belmont Shore. The first thing I saw was gray, balmy sky, and my mind immediately leapt to the walk down Santa Ana street to the ocean. The gray sky was real, of course, but the bright purple hibiscus flowers lining that path were three thousand miles away.
I wouldn’t have called myself a “California girl” before spending three years immersed in a culture that is anything but. Growing up, my fantasy life involved urban city centers navigated by public transportation, places with bright marquee lights and scarves and cafes where you could spend all afternoon with Austen or Faulkner without a strange look from teenagers in string bikinis.
I’m sitting in one of those cafes right now. Admittedly, I spend more time with my Google reader than with Austen, but that dream has been realized all the same. A train takes me to school each day, I own enough scarves to outfit a small boutique, and I can tell you where to get the best chocolate-chip cookie in Manhattan.*
Being the child of parents who are still happily married, I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever come to being torn between two poles. I love Boston. Twenty minutes and some flat boots can get you anywhere in the whole city, and the place you’re going probably is some speak-easy restaurant with dollar oysters.** But, as my early-morning subconscious can attest, I am longing for the sunny, salty air of the open expanse where I grew up.
M always teases me that I’m a split personality when it comes to cities. When we land in Boston each August, I’m all hopped up on the Q, rhapsodizing about culture! And ethnic food! And intellectual communities! And as soon as the first 20 degree day hits, I’m angry at the weather and making kindergarten paper chains to count down the days to when we fly “home to California, how could anyone even consider living somewhere else!”
So, it’s safe to say that I have trouble making up my mind. Except that when I look ahead to our return home after the bar exam, to living among our core loved ones again (instead of the dreaded exercise of “splitting time” among people I would rather lavish time upon)…I feel nothing but unadulterated excitement.
Perhaps that’s my answer after all.
*It’s Levain Bakery. If someone says otherwise, they’re telling a falsehood and they don’t want you to be happy. Get the chocolate chip walnut and then write a poem about it. We’ll compare our sonnets*** while eating the double-chocolate chip.
**Hi, Marliave. Let’s talk about your gin cocktails and how they’re just…I like them. A lot.
***You were going to do a sonnet, right? Haikus look like you’re not even trying.