"Goin' to California with an aching in my heart." - Led Zeppelin
When I was younger, home meant where my family was, wherever it was we were living. But I also had another sense of home--a deeper meaning which came from my family history. A sense of place based on that history, filled with stories of family beginnings, lives lived, and stories told. A place where we would go back to in between moves, where our extended family was, and where we felt we belonged. That place for me was always California.
California is the home state for both my parents. My dad grew up in San Jose and my mom grew up in Roseville. When my dad was in Vietnam, we lived in Roseville in a small rented home. This was so my mom could be near her parents and have some support and help with us kids. When dad came home, he was stationed at Oakland Army Base, so we moved to Walnut Creek, a small town closer to Oakland.
Then we got sent to Maryland, and my brother and I were NOT happy about it! We were quite content with our life in California. Well, as it turns out, Maryland was a great place to live. But as much as I enjoyed it there, I still pined for California. In all the places we lived after that, I never lost my longing for HOME. I knew someday I would get back there.
All the years we moved around, we would always make trips back to visit my relatives, usually in the summer. We loved spending time with my grandparents and my cousins, and we loved the sunshine. It was always hot in California! I think most of all though, it was the connection to something consistent. I was always very sad to leave.
My longing for California intensified when we moved to Ft. Lewis, WA. Let me tell you, for a girl who loves the sun, the constant rain and darkness up in Washington just put me into a depression. Every year, I tried to scheme a way to get to California. Couldn't I go live with my grandparents? How about my cousins? Please? No, my parents did not go for these ideas.
We saved all our allowance and babysitting money. We even begged small change from our friends, saying we forgot our lunch money. Shameful, I know! We put all this money in a shoebox, and by June we had $300. Not bad for piddly change, I'd say.
Well, then of course we realized the futility of our scheme. What would the two of us really do out in California? Where would we stay? Was $300 enough? We might be in danger and we wouldn't want to worry our parents.... So much for our California dreams. Instead, we split the money and went to the mall.
All through high school, I continued to fantasize about living in California. Then it became obvious to me how I would finally get there. It was simple really. All I had to do was choose a California college. So, in the fall of '82, my dad drove me down to Sacramento to begin my new life--the one I had dreamed of for so many years.
I never looked back.
I love living here as much as I knew I would. Even with all its financial and political problems, I still love it. It is a beautiful state with interesting people and a laid-back, free-spirited culture that I enjoy. It is HOME and I don't see myself ever leaving.
What does home mean to you?
"Someone told me there's a girl out there, with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair." - Led Zeppelin