If there is one thing I've learned in the last five weeks of my writing class, I clearly fit in the essayist or memoir writer category. I'm the blatant protagonist in all of my writing and attempting another route is a huge challenge. My homework this week was to pick a trip and organize a memoir like a good fiction story, with beginning, body of the story in which the character faces some sort of adversity or conflict and ending, with some resolution of the conflict. So, I took an old posting of mine and reworked it. Here's what I'm turning in....what do you think?
Memoir Homework – “A Return Home”
Since I moved to New York City two years ago, the question I’m most frequently asked is "Why would you leave Sunny SoCal for New York?!" The first 150 times, I answered sincerely...I had reached a point in my life where I needed a change, wanted the larger than life experience in Manhattan, etc. Apparently that didn't suffice so my response now is more concise: "Why do you choose to live in New York?" Next topic.
In my almost 32 years, I have only once spent Christmas in the snow. Even when we lived in Minnesota, we would fly out to Palm Springs every holiday break and spend a few weeks in the sun rejuvenating our depleted Vitamin D stores. My first return to San Diego after my big, cross-country move had similar motivations – sun and family holiday celebration. Unique to this visit, my return was slightly shrouded with uncertainty. Quite possibly my visit could warrant a reversal of fortunes, a realization that the grass wasn’t really Kelly green but only slightly lime-yellow.
Christmas break in San Diego was filled with reunions with my favorite people - loads of laughs and quality time catching up, quiet time relaxing at home with my parents, a few movies, and lots of driving! It had been six months since I was last behind the wheel and I’d forgotten how dependent on cars we are in California. They are great because you can go wherever you want whenever you want and whichever route you prefer (scenic, direct, a stop at CVS.) You can choose to interact with or avoid as many people as you want. Singular to my current mode of transportation (foot, bus or subway.) Current budgets preclude 24/7 car service.
My trip included tailgating with friends before the Poinsettia Bowl - it was about 56 degrees and sunny yet people were dressed for a snow storm! I'd just left 18 inches of fresh snow, 21 degree weather and a wind chill factor of 12 in New York. I thought it was sublime!
Twelve weeks without doing my hair was rewarded with a fun trip to see my old stylist, Irene. We swapped stories on life in NYC vs. SD and my hair was fantastically coiffed for a fraction of what I am forced to pay in NY. Worth the wait for so many reasons!
My typical 500 square foot abode was exchanged for a week of 4,500 square foot magnificence in my parent's home. To sleep in a king size bed in a room practically the size of my apartment with a rain shower, oh the luxury! Breakfast with an ocean view, Christmas with my family, and coffee beachside with old friends -moments that encapsulate "home".
It was lovely being home – I found myself enjoying the evening sunsets gazing at the ocean, glass of wine in hand, a wistful smile broaching my lips as I …longed for New York?
Driving is convenient, comfortable, fast (with me driving) and fun (sun roof open, favorite radio station blaring.) However, you miss the forced interaction of the street or the subway or the bus. Headed to work, I’m inundated daily with a large cross section of the population. It's a small glimpse at the World. Amazingly not everyone is a blond and buff Adonis as they'd have you believe in Southern California.
I desperately missed walking everywhere and having a plethora of "things to do". I could leave my apartment at 7 am and not return until the evening, filling the day with events like: a swim, trip to the Whitney, BBQ in Jersey City, ice skate in Bryant Park, cheap eats in China Town, and Sunday football before stumbling home to bed. And that was just one day last weekend!
San Diego offers exclusive perks - the beach, the persistent sun, the mountains, great hiking, etc. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely appreciate those things and am thankful there always there when I visit. But I kind of like walking down the street horrified at how tremendously freezing it is. It makes the warmer days SO much warmer...even if “warmer” only equals 10 degrees. I can ride my bike to the seaboard or to hike in the beautiful NY State parks. And while it may be wicked expensive and somewhat confining, I smile everyday at quirks that make New York City my new scene. My home.