Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin
cswallow

California Days

A surprisingly quiet New Year's Eve, with a feast of incredible proportions prepared by my sister-in-law's family. Usually there is much carousing, dancing and singing. This year that was replaced by dinner, toasting, and comfortable conversation around the table. I drink too much champagne and it all goes straight to my head; I fall asleep at 2, fuzzy-headed and quiet. 

I had a California day, yesterday. First, wandering the Oakland Museum of California and tracing John Muir's steps in his journeys around the Sierras. Then, driving across the Bay Bridge to see San Francisco trembling before me, the buildings tumbling from heights to water like a thousand gleaming beads dumped from a jeweler's pouch. The promise of it pricks my skin. The shape mountains take as they rise from the ocean, coniferous and young, is branded in my mind. Summertime's golden dryness, the chaparral every tone of olive and oak, hills bounding away in acre after acre. It is there, under my eyelids even when I am far away. Opportunity, adventure, the inimitable vibe of the Valley that the future is in our hands. This is what it is to be from here, I think. 

There's also the darker side of home, the siren call to be what I used to be, when in fact I am striving to be different and better. I barely remember my routines here and yet every successive day pushes me into what I was - the things I liked about myself, but also the things I didn't. This is the last year when I will be home for such a long stretch of time, living like a child in this room and house with my parents. After this year, the free holidays will be gone; I will be a working woman again by the time Christmas and New Year 2012 roll around again. I wonder at the sensation - it is nostalgia and longing and relief all balled up together. Perhaps it is fitting that this year has lost the rambunctiousness of previous years. Perhaps this presages the years to come.

I hope to work today. I find it isn't very much fun yet, though. I'm also finding how much I don't know, and how much I've forgotten. I am flanked with books titled, "Raising Capital for Dummies" and "How to write a business plan" and "Your Start-up Business," but also "Best American Essays of the Century" and Joan Didion's "The White Album." Writing is still writing, I tell myself vociferously,  so I must love it. I bend back to the task.
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