There comes a point in every California-native-now-living-in-the-Midwesterner (and there are at least 4 reading this) when we realize that our children will think of California not as home but as a slightly off-kilter happy world of sand and theme parks. Clara and I spent last week with my family in an Oceanside, CA condo where we spent our days playing on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and watching the surfers (all now part of Clara's vocabulary.) Mainly Clara spent her time being doted on by her grandma and her cousins Alexandra, Kyle, and Adam. Her wide-eyed reaction to everything familiar to me but new to her highlighted the fact that her childhood is going to be vastly different than mine. Clara and Kate will be St. Louis girls, like their mom. While I don't really know what that means, I'm starting to see that where I spent my holidays at the ocean or the American river, they will spend theirs on the Mississippi. In fact, we spent July 3rd and 4th as part of the Hagin family in the cottage community of Chautauqua on the Mississippi, where the girls were doted on by friends and strangers alike (when Jenny let them out of her arms.)
Where my brother Chris and I drove up to Tahoe to ski whenever we felt the urge, to Clara and Kate mountains will be as foreign as redwood trees. Where I grew numb to the threat of earthquakes, they will do the same with tornados. Most likely, the fruit and vegetables we ate came from close by in California - here, that can be said only for the beer. My brother bled Dodger blue, so of course I rooted for the Giants - Clara already cheers for the Redbirds. In California the weather was hot in the day and coolish at night. In St. Louis it's muggy no matter what time it is. "The City" meant San Francisco to me; perhaps it will mean Chicago to them.
The fireflies and the storms and the lush greenery of St. Louis were all new and exciting to me when we moved here -- Megan barely noticed them. Megan has, however, said that the palm trees of California drew her to Santa Clara University. To her, they were a symbol of the sun and surf of California, and she wanted to spend her college years amongst them. While I of course find nothing novel or inviting about palm trees, I am forever grateful that they brought me my wife.
Some highlights from our trip:
- Due to a recommendation from Clara's friend Mia Williams, we visited Legoland, a highly interactive theme park where Clara met Lego Dora and I got a Lego Darth Vader T-Shirt.
- Our first day at the beach was overcast and a bit breezy. Although she was cold and shivering, Clara was determined to stay in the water. She locked her jaw like a little Popeye and kept going back in. Any attempts to take her back to the towels was met with a 2-year-old's version of "No thank you."
- While Chris, Alex, Kyle, Adam, and I were in San Diego heading to a Padres game, a man pulled up next to us at a stop light blasting the less-than-gentle melodies of his favorite hardcore rap singer. It happened that the song "Why Can't We be Friends?" came on our radio. I reached over and cranked our volume to eleven. I gave the guy a little head nod, but for some reason he didn't acknowledge me. For a virtual approximation of the exchange, click the first one then come back to this page and click the second one (warning: may not work on your machine):
Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee
Why Can't we be Friends?