Known in California

First, to set the scene, a Woody Guthrie tune performed by Wilco and Billy Bragg.

After nearly a year and a half of yearning for California – with its balmy weather, avocados, and my many loved ones located firmly within its boundaries – we arrived. Just barely, though. Our last weekend in the UK was one of nearly missed trains and nearly lost treasures, as well as the looming menace of winter weather. Snow hadn’t yet arrived, but I knew it could only be a matter of time. Memories of last winter ran through my mind with growing dread. The storm hit as we were sitting on the Tube, on our way to Heathrow. Rain in horizontal sheets swept through the Tube doors at every overground stop. We made it in plenty of time, though, even with our improvised stops at the Hellenic Bookservice and a cozy café for an eggs Florentine and French toast brunch.

California greeted us with 25 degree Celsius weather and not a drop of rain to be seen. Drought hadn’t yet been proclaimed, and everyone was basking in a remarkably warm season – even for Southern California. Our three and a half weeks were filled with family, friends, and packing in every last bit of California possible. It was Sean’s first trip to the United States, and I wanted to show him everything: the breathtaking, the terribly tacky, and all that’s found in the murky area in between. I can say with some measure of confidence that I succeeded, while still leaving plenty for our next trans-Pacific trip.

Christmas morning with my brother’s Huskies, Spirit and Chloe.


Final day in California with my sweet puss, Yeats.
Boxing Day, and day one of the five-day road trip my parents took us on through central California. First stop: The Getty.
Sunset at Hearst Castle. The swimming pools were unequivocally my favorite aspect. I felt a small burst of jealousy bloom in my breast when one of the employees spoke of the annual staff pool party – what I would give to swim in those pools!
Nearing sunset at Avila Beach.
A small part of the many elephant seals on this beach. The male on the right was soon chased off the beach, and forced to retreat into the surf.
A few days after our family road trip, I took Sean for a five-day jaunt to San Francisco, where I showed him all the major scenes of a misspent youth. He thought it was pretty cool.
First In N Out ever. New lifelong fan.
Sunset over the San Francisco Masonic Temple.
The interior of my favorite cathedral in the world: Grace Cathedral.
Interior of a photobooth. Musee Mecanique, San Francisco.


Over the years, I’ve gotten so used to being half a world away from my family (or, when in San Francisco, an 8-10 hour-long drive or an hour-long flight) that being with them has become a novelty; an annual opportunity, if I’m lucky. I am lucky, though, to be related by blood to a clan made up of some of the most intelligent, creative, dedicated, and sincerely interested (as well as interesting) people I’ve ever met. To know I am welcome home for a day, week, or month, or hell, as long as I need to be there, is such a privilege. It’s knowing that people like them have my back no matter what that makes it possible for me to be so far away from home. People who know me. To paraphrase something my mother said just the other day, to feel like you’re known is one of the most important things. In California, I am known.

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