Golden Gate, originally uploaded by bexadler.
I know we’ve had our differences in the past. I spent my teenage years complaining about how boring life was around you; talking about how we had nothing in common; how all I wanted in the world was to get away from you. In the past few years, however, I have really come to appreciate so much about you. Not just because I miss you, but because I have finally been able to see you through other people’s eyes.
When I was traveling through Australia, I would always get to talking to Aussies about how fantastic their country was. I loved all the awesome, “weird” animals they had. I loved the sunshine and the laid back attitude most people seemed to have. More often than not, they would look at me with a puzzled expression on their faces and say, “But you’re from California!”
Apparently we have cool, weird animals too, namely skunks, raccoons, bears, deer, rattle snakes, road runners, even squirrels. Yes, they were impressed by squirrels. AND California has the infamous Yosemite, a rock climber’s paradise and a destination for more than 4 million visitors per year.
As I have traveled around, this has happened again and again, not just in Australia. Being able to see what other people appreciated about my home state helped me to start to appreciate it too. But then, THEN, I stayed away long enough and traveled widely enough that I learned how truly lucky I have been in my life. So, California, here is a short list of all of the things I love (and miss) about you.
I love your diversity. I love that you translate signs into other languages even though the majority of your people speak English. I love that people of all colors sit together on the bus and it is not weird. I love your cyclists and hippies. Even your vegans!
I love your natural wonders. You’ve got deserts, and mountains, and coasts. I love your blue skies, your ocean views, your rivers, your lakes. I love that I can camp, hike, run, cycle, kayak, climb, ski, and even hang glide to my heart’s content. I love that there will always be somebody not only willing, but eager, to do all of those things with me.
I love your produce. I love that we can grow things almost year-round. Tomatoes, avocados, oranges, peaches, almonds, corn, strawberries: all available, fresh-picked, on the side of the road.
I love that I can drink your water from the faucet. I love that I can carry around my Nalgene and refill it at drinking fountains around town for free.
I love that you have mild winters and hot summers. I love that I can get a mimosa at 10 a.m. and that’s not weird. I love your wines. I love your cheese.
I love so many things about you; so many things that I did not know I would miss and grow nostalgic for. I am so grateful to be from such a wonderfully diverse state, both in terms of people and in terms of landscapes. I wouldn’t be happy to have come from anywhere else.
I miss you so much and look forward to being home again one day. Until then, I will be satisfied with looking through old photos and listening to Joni Mitchell’s “California” when I’m feeling homesick for you.