On California, And Me

Posted on Feb 9, 2016 in Personal, USA | 4 Comments

my california

I kept telling people that I was going home for a month, but it never quite sounded right.

I was going to California, to my parents’ house, to the place my stuff lives in the US. But I never lived in California and never feel that complicated nostalgia of longing that often bubbles up when I visit Boston. The Bay Area is full of joy, but it’s not really my home.

Spending a month there allows me the space and time to think in a way that I don’t really get in Boston. I never spend as long away in one place as I do when I visit California, and that complete dislocation from everywhere I’ve lived lets me be an observer to my own life.

my california

It’s a luxury. I have the comfort of living at my parent’s house in the quiet suburbs, staying in and eating their delicious cooking and watching Jeopardy and going to sleep early. I have easy access to San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. I have the time to meet with many friends and have all kinds of weird adventures. And at the end, I have the ultimate luxury to fly back to Turkey.

I had fun. Friends from all over my past have been drawn to the Bay—from childhood and high school, from college and Boston, from Istanbul and from blogging. I ate tacos and pupusas and pho and bulgoki and so many other yummy things that are scarce in Turkey. I went to museums and explored new neighborhoods and spent way too much time on BART. It was a beautiful month.

my california

But I always end up feeling a little bit out of context in California. I was working while I was there, but never really established a routine. Seeing friends or getting out of the suburbs at all always involved a lot of planning. Many of my friends in San Francisco work in tech, and I always felt a step removed from that culture. The conversation in the city is always about the riding costs of everything and the rush of gentrification, and I often felt like an observer—after all, California is not the center of my world.

It was a good month. I am grateful for that space to think, for the chance to explore a really cool part of my country (and multiple cool cities) for an extended period of time. I love seeing old friends and learning new things, and I adore my family.

California isn’t really home. But it’s an awfully nice place to go home to.

my california

4 Comments

  1. David Pierce
    February 9, 2016

    After living in Turkey for what is now fifteen years, I am amused to see the extravagant use of space seen in photographs of American suburbs. Before yours, I was looking at some from the other coast, in Staten island. Did you drive while in California? Perhaps not, if you spent “way too much time on BART”!

    I made Berkeley my home for six months, before I came to Turkey; I have said it was the best place I ever lived. I appreciated that drivers actually stopped for pedestrians.

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      February 9, 2016

      All that suburban space was SO DISORIENTING for me! As was the quiet, after adjusting to hectic Istanbul. Though I do actually have a driver’s license, I dislike driving and haven’t in years, so I tend to be public-transportation-dependent (or a passenger) when I visit the US.
      I used Berkeley as a work base in December so spent a lot of time there; it was wonderful!

      Reply
      • David Pierce
        February 10, 2016

        Good for you for not driving. How much rain did you have in Berkeley? I was there for the great “1997–98 El Niño event.” This meant I did a lot of bicycling in the rain, but 18 years later it doesn’t seem like a big deal. There wasn’t the snow I bicycled through in Ontario a year later! I have never owned a car, but bicycled everywhere while living in the US and Canada. The greenness of North-American suburbs can be wonderful, but not the cars. When I moved to Turkey, I gave up bicycling for the same reason my wife gave up smoking: preservation of life. It is wonderful that here one can take a bus or dolmuş just about anywhere.

        Reply
        • Katrinka
          February 11, 2016

          It only rained a little while I was in Berkeley– I was lucky even if California wasn’t. I also used to bike when I lived in Boston and I also gave it up in Turkey, because I don’t want to die. I miss it, though!

          Reply

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