I’ve lived in California since 1989. I’ve lived in Palo Alto, a town on the peninsula south of San Francisco (Silicon Valley) for fifteen years. I came here because I took a job at my former company’s corporate headquarters. Now I’m leaving.
Leaving is the right thing to do, for my family and my work. But still.
I know that a place, a land, cannot love you, but I think that one of my greatest loves has been my California. I love the place. I love the look of coastal California. I love the rocky cliffs next to the seashore, the seasons of dry and wet, the mountains in the distance. My world is Northern California, the area around San Francisco, but I also love the California central coast and the southern coastal area. I love the San Francisco Bay. My town, Palo Alto, is one of the towns ringing the bay.
I love the weather. Coastal California is one of only five Mediterranean climates in the world. I love how the climate where I live is moderate, temperate, rarely hot or cold. The air is dry, not humid or muggy. I love how it cools down at night in summer, due to the blessed cold Pacific Ocean. I love the Pacific Ocean. I love how, when it’s not raining, the sky is overcast in the morning, and then the sky is blue. I love how it rains only in the winter, and the rain just comes down, no thunderstorms. I love how even in the winter there are days of sunshine. I love how it doesn’t snow or freeze where I live, at my elevation, ever. I love the look of the light. I love how, even in the winter, something is always blooming.
I love something that’s hard to describe, a casual acceptance. Sometimes that can translate to indifference, but it still works for me. You make friends here, good friends – it just takes longer than you would think. I’ve felt free here. That freedom will go with me, wherever I live.
I love being in the hi-tech business in Silicon Valley, but that’s not why I moved here. I moved for California.
I love Point Reyes National Seashore – my favorite place in the world. I’ve been there so much I know it in a way I’ll never know another outdoor space. I love Seacliff State Beach, the Palo Alto Art Center, various art galleries, museums and events, my coffeehouse, the Palo Alto Baylands Park, the swaths of blue Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus) plants blooming. I love the work of various California artists.
I love where I live, a smaller, older apartment complex built around an inner courtyard. The apartments are big, with a lot of light but not a lot of soundproofing, so the apartment managers try to hire quiet tenants. It’s hard to describe why I like it so much. Something about the place just worked for me. In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve felt, oddly enough, like I was living in a resort, even though it’s not a fancy place.
I love the apartment pool, which is very California. I love the blue of it, the water, the tile around the edges, the comfortable chairs. There have been many times I was the only person in the pool, swimming a few laps, and then padding slowly back and forth. When I was by myself it was “my pool”. When a family member visited it was “our pool”. It was magical.
I think that you can move forward, as they say, without denying what you had and where you’ve been. There are good places everywhere. I’m looking forward to swimming in my hometown community pool, to autumn in the northeast US, to being there for my family, to going to the Jersey seashore, to new work. I think that my life will be good. But in my heart I will never leave my California.