I'm obsessed with California.
Oh sure, there are things I'm not altogether fond of. Things like Death Valley and El Centro and politics. But to have been born and raised here is to be called a Californian--and that's not something I'm ashamed of. Because to declare her heritage and her blood means that I get to claim the warm sand of San Diego beaches, the majesty of Yosemite, the snow capped Sierra-Nevadas,the driftwood of the gray northern seashores and Redwood trees. Lake Tahoe, my favorite place on earth, covers the crooked border that is shared with Nevada. And weather worn lighthouses litter the coastline in ghostly beauty.
I've been to 18 states (and it's a personal goal of mine to see them all before I die) and I find several of them to be quite wonderful. But the thought of leaving this place for any of them actually makes my throat constrict if I dwell on it for too long. Because she is beauty. She is familiarity and magnificence and wonder. She is home.
I adore the nearly year round warmth of my life in Southern California. The way my skin feels when the sun drenches it in kisses. The not-too-hot-and-not-too-cold way it feels when a breeze picks up on a lazy afternoon in late September. How the sky looks when dusk falls over Point Loma. I love it here in my little corner of the country, where dreams are not landlocked but have an oceanic eternity to come true. Where there is San Francisco and Crescent City and Hollywood and Tahoe City and as different as they all are, they're all in the same state.
And if e'er I am to leave, I will miss the smell of waves breaking just off the shore of my youth. I will cry for all I took for granted for so long. I will remember, in my new world, what it looked like to sit behind a computer screen, on my own slice of land, in a place my grandparents came to and my parents didn't leave, and watch the trees gently blowing as the October of my life waited to take hold. But even if I find myself in New Jersey, New Mexico, New York or New Delhi, I will call myself Californian. Because I can't imagine ever ending this love affair.