Some people spend the holidays in snow, around fireplaces, in mittens, in bundles.
We spend ours at the sea.
California is full of ghosts, a haunted piece of a former life that begs revisiting once or twice a year. I covet this time with family, but spend these sunny trips trying to swallow the nagging feeling that any moment my past will walk around a corner, like the me that could have been is wandering the streets of this dusty place, living the road I abandoned, making the choices I didn’t make.
I carry hope into California, laughing in a backpack, beaming her smile at southern strangers. Love walks along holding my hand. I am encapsulated in the truth of the life I love, but the bubble feels fragile, the memory is pungent –
one strong gust of eucalyptus and everything might come undone.
Still I am home on these sea hills where my grandfather walked, sand in our shoes, and here I still hear him. Here he hovers in my grandmother’s smile, the scent of her perfume, the precious touch of her hand. His stories echo off the walls of the sea.
And I will suffer all your ghosts, California, to walk here with his.
I love this entry. I too revisit Northern CA with my lil H to tell him stories of his grandpa as we walk thru GGP taking in the smells of the ocean breeze and eucalyptus trees. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing!
This comment brought me the best little moment of peace this morning, Bridgid – thank you for reminding me how much we all share.
If this part of your California past walked around the corner and saw you, I would do my Happy Dance and give you the biggest hug because I’d be so happy to see you. (In fact, several years ago I thought I saw you at the outdoor mall in Fremont and was completely confused for several moments!) But I understand a fraction of what you must have felt returning here, as there are places from my past that I avoid. So grateful that you had your hope and love with you, as I know those brought you peace, comfort, and strength.
Let us please arrange a “random” corner rounding in the very near future. That would make my whole trip! Perhaps in the spring… love back!
I would LOVE a “random” corner rounding! Let me know if you’re in my neck of the woods.
I loved this. We went to the coast when I was a kid, and although I wouldn’t consider myself a beach girl by any stretch (I prefer the mountains), I love the wild beach of Northern California. Ryan and I discovered that we both visited the same beach near Jenner, CA when we were kids. <3
Love that. The California coast has its own lovely smell. I need a California coast candle. It would save on airfare significantly. 😉
I spent 20 wonderful years in Los Angeles, and although I don’t go back often, when I do, I get very nostalgic about my youthful self and all the fun I had there. I only wish I had kept journals more than sporadically…it would be such fun to read them now. Love you, Karyn!
Love you too! Seeing you folks is by far the best part of the visiting. By far.
Your daughter is gorgeous. I hope you had a great vacation.
Thanks Shauna! (back to sleuthing…) 😉
Aw, I’m envious! We also head “back home” to the Bay Area every spring break. We are already planning our trip and counting the days until the end of March… I love that my kids get to play at the same parks and beaches I played at and grow up knowing and loving the people we love and miss. And, of course, experience the mild, sunny weather and lack of rain! Have fun!
Heidi, it was 70 and sunny the whole time – amazing. We didn’t know how to dress ourselves appropriately. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!
I have read this entry over and over this morning. It brought me to tears because it reads exactly like my own experience with going home to California. It always feels like home… yet the ghosts and the roads not taken are everywhere. I love your blog more than you know… thank you for sharing such beautiful things.
Aw, Sarah, thank you. I am guilty of saying “I just feel so WEIRD being here.” about 200 times on every trip. Poor Fave. He handles my feeler feelings so very well.