I’m a California Girl. No, no, not Katy Perry’s type of California Gurl. After all, my ghostly-white thighs do not pair well with Daisy Dukes, nor is my post-pregnancy belly appropriate for a “bikini on top.” But I grew up in California, leaving only briefly to experience college and grad school on the opposite coast.
Once it was time to have kids, I knew where I’d go. I’m right back in my hometown and very pleased to be part of Silicon Valley Mamas. I don’t see myself leaving California, although I know I left a piece of my soul in New York all the same.
But of course not everything is fine and dandy here in California. From the whole gay-marriage controversy to school budget cuts, things could definitely be better. And most recently, the San Bruno gas explosion put a lump in my throat.
Over the summer, my grandmother died. She was 98 years old and had lived an amazing life… in San Bruno. I cried when she sold her house just a few years ago. That was the home my father had grown up in. That was the home where I stood at the front window, watching airplanes fly by as they took off and landed at SFO. I can close my eyes and examine every nook and cranny of that house.
It was a safe space for me.
Sure, negative things happened there. I remember hearing of my other grandmother’s death while sitting in the living room. I ran back to the bedroom where my father had slept in his youth to cry my eyes out. I remember being punished there because I was a feisty child. I remember how annoying it was to wash the dishes by hand because there was no dish washer. I remember how there was no play structure in the back yard, although the laundry line was kind of cool.
But it was a special place for me.
And so, when it sold, I hurt. When I saw the flames jumping on the television with the words “Skyline Boulevard, San Bruno,” I froze. I looked at the map of the explosion site and was relieved that it appeared to be on the opposite side of the freeway as my grandparents’ old place.
But of course I also feel a great sadness that part of their neighborhood is gone. (And yes, I know it is no longer “theirs” but I just can’t help myself.) Just this past May – before my grandma died – I remember dissolving into tears as I ran down Skyline Boulevard as part of “The Relay.” As I passed the neighborhood that is now burned to the ground, I reflected on the time I spent with my grandparents walking around, visiting community parks, and going to the grocery store. My tears were purely nostalgic at that point. Just a few months later, that grocery store became the “meet up” place for people fleeing their homes. Now I would have a much better reason to cry.
California is certainly a safe, comforting place for me. But as with all places, it changes, sometimes painfully. I am glad that one big positive change is the creation of Silicon Valley Mamas, and I look forward to sharing my sappy, nostalgic thoughts with you.