Four years ago I moved to San Francisco, California from Berlin, New Jersey.
Today, after traveling around California and a short stay in DC, I am remembering the path that lead me here.
I've been in love with California my entire life. I say my entire life because I truly cannot remember a time when I wasn't longing to be here. As a child I have vivid memories of visiting family in the Bay Area that left me wishing, even through the foggiest summer weeks, that I might call it home one day. Although my childhood was far from troubled, I can still feel the intense anguish of feeling like I had been dropped in a place on the planet where I was not meant to be. I can come right back into the spirit of a 7 year old Laura, burning jasmine incense, listening to Jagged Little Pill on a boombox, and staring out a tiny window in south Jersey, wishing I was somewhere else. Somewhere like California.
I remember being 13 or 14 the first time I listened to June on the West Coast. By the time I was 13 or 14, this love for California was more than just an idea. This wasn't associated with any mind-melting marketing like Disney World type of manufactured feels. This was an internal pull. The idea that I was too fucking weird for everyone in New Jersey and I didn't belong there. Or they were weird in the way that no one wanted to talk about the clouds or sit on the roof and watch the stars at night.
I did not belong.
But here I am now. Every time I drive through the Robbin Williams Tunnel I am grateful and in awe at the beauty of the bay. Every time I am in Golden Gate Park, I inhale as much of the Eucalyptus as I can. And if I so much as smell sweet Sage Brush near the beach, you can bet that I am sidetracked for at least 15 minutes.
Four years does not seem like a long time. Yet because we have forever fall and two springs in San Francisco, it's hard to know if it has been 48 moons or 8, or 80.
Mostly I am grateful for the oneness that is so frontal on the West Coast. You would have to be mad to step outside into the natural beauty of this place and not feel connected to something larger. From the mountains to the desert to the cliffy beaches covered in redwoods... how can anyone feel alone here?