Yolo county, California

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We were just in Davis for a short while, but below are some things that happened while we were there that aren’t reflected in these photos:

More fresh eggs in the morning

Joey ate a five-year-old’s grapes

Tim’s bike tour through Davis

Michelle’s pool and an inflatable orca

Dad’s gnocci

Guadalajara in the park

Sunburns

Davis night scene??

Megan somehow planned out the rest of our trip

Lots of talk about In N Out

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“The coldest winter I ever spent…

…was my summer in San Francisco.” Thanks for the heads-up, Mark Twain. Any witticisms about the public transit?

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Actually, it was in San Francisco where Twain wrote “Jim Smiley and the Jumping Frog,” which, apparently, first catapulted him into stardom. I have my own associations with that story, specific to when I first read it at age 14. More specifically, when I was wearing spaghetti-straps like a boss and taking “hella tight” grammar classes on the Sacramento State campus in the summer.

Yes, I did use this bad boy to get me into R-rated movies in Davis.

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Anyway, enough about how amazing I was and how much of life I had figured out at 14.

What I was trying to transition to was that no number of literary jabs could keep me from loving San Francisco any less than I did when I was a teenager. I probably was as obsessed with San Francisco as much as I was with myself. She was my city upon a hill. The Golden Gate through which I saw the end to my graceless adolescence. She was beautiful, and I loved her, all of her. Her Twin Peaks, her Coit Tower, her North Beach. To me, San Francisco never left the 60s. She kept Howl in her back pocket, didn’t care what her parents said, and was BFF’s with Joni Mitchell and Hunter S. Thompson. She taught me about dim sum, Jack Kerouac, public transit, and thrift shopping for dirty shoes and tight pants. She took me to Stern Grove for the first time, bought me an Assata Shakur t-shirt, and told me she liked my poetry. She didn’t care that I was some sad, Vitamin D-deficient girl from the suburbs who just discovered Conor Oberst and therapy. She was love and love was Haight.

In many ways, San Francisco really was my first love. And, as my first boyfriend at age 14 once dramatically said after I roller-bladed (wrist guards, no helmet) to meet him on the North Davis greenbelt; “You never forget your first love.”

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Wait. Was he breaking up with me?

I guess it’s just you and me again, SF.

Ijburg and the Treaty of Nostalgia

This time of year I get pretty nostalgic for pretty much anything. The Germans have the perfect word for it: sehnsüchtig. From sehnen– “to yearn for” and suchtig– “addicting.” All together we get the ever-so-romantic adjective of “being addicted to yearning.”

So I got nostalgic for traveling, and then I looked through old journals and anecdotes from some of my early trips out of the country, and found that in those travel journals I wrote mostly about my memories of home. There really never is any simple satisfaction, I suppose.

My cooler-than-cool younger brother just got back from Amsterdam, and I certainly hope he spent less of his time day dreaming than I did when I was there. So, for giggles, here’s an old journal piece from the last time I was in Amsterdam.

“Ijburg,” I said. The man behind the glass shield just laughed. “I mean …Centraal Station.” We were at Ijburg, the last stop on the 26 tram. I passed him my 2,40 Euros and, with an embarrassed resignation, took a seat by the window.

Rainy days in Amsterdam are so different from rainy days in Seattle, I thought, but could not think beyond the frustrations of the day to my support my observation.

At the station, I stepped off the tram and pulled my hood over my head, relentlessly pushing my wet bangs away from my eyes. Centraal Station is always teeming with people, but somehow the rainy days made the insatiable crowd more overwhelmingly vacant and domineering.  I remembered a tale a boy once recounted for me; hungry ghosts, I thought, all I see are hungry ghosts. So I hurried by the vibrant accordion player and his trumpeter companion pinned against a wall by the mass of people. I stepped past wide-eyed backpackers and stumbled across the intersection of trams, knowing this specific spot was my least favorite crevice of the planet.

I followed Damrak, my pace quick and steady through the mélange of sex shops and tourist traps. I was still encircled by assorted faces and legs and arms and hands—some with umbrellas, some without.

Damrak turned without notice into Rokin. The voices of tourists faded into the sounds of trams rushing against their wet metal tracks and a woman’s boots methodically clapped against the cobblestone pavement with a beat that was just slightly off. Sex shops became coffee shops and döner kebab joints. Rokin crossed Singel and Amstel before it transformed into Vijzelstraat. I walked on the side opposite to the cinema where the night before I watched My Bloody Valentine through 3D glasses, and I felt my lingering horror and a maturing disgrace with my judgment at the time.

Cold and wet, with pangs of hunger, and still embittered by the lasting effects of that damn movie I continued. Herengracht passed, and then Keizergracht. I stopped under the striped awning of a forlorn café to check the map I had scrawled out for myself that morning. My blue ink scratches told me I had gone too far. I crossed the road, turned down a narrow side street, and eventually found myself at my destination. Lipstick-red Helvetica that spelled out F-O-A-M was my guiding beam of light, so I pulled down my hood and rowed my boat ashore.

Perhaps if I wasn’t still loosening the buttons on my jacket I wouldn’t have gone down the wrong stairwell after entering. Perhaps if I wasn’t alone someone would have pointed me in the direction of the start of the exhibit, rather than the end. Maybe if I had learned Dutch I could have read the signs. But my jacket was too stiff and wet, I was entirely alone, and I know hardly a word of that linguistic anomaly some call a language. And so the second portrait I saw in the Richard Avedon exhibition at FOAM Fotogalerie was not of Marilyn Monroe’s tragic smile, Andy Warhol’s scarred stomach, or any number of artists whose portraits were more familiar to me than their works.

Instead I met eyes with the portrait of a bare-chested, bald man with only a minor expression on his face. His body—pallid and glowing against the white background—was shrouded by bees. I stood before him rain-drenched, resentful of the day’s circumstances, and still unable to admit my own likeness with the masses of hungry ghosts. The shock of the bees and the unnervingly slight expression on the pale man were aesthetically wasted on me until I read the words below. Beekeeper. May 9, 1981. Davis, California.

I had to look twice, and then a third time, but it was still there: the hallowed writing on the wall.  Davis, California. Then, for the first time, I felt the man watching me. I looked back. I spied the photographer’s reflection in the eyes and recognized the scenery behind the man with a camera: the landscape I knew so well. I thought I saw the navy silhouette of the mountains from the hollow of the valley, and I could have sworn to have seen the shape of the fields along Russell Boulevard in the spring. There I saw it—the playfulness of shouts and hollers around the town’s sulfuric fountain, the succulence of the peach from a weathered palm in the Saturday market, the vivacity in the dance of moths under her doorstep lantern, and the roundness of all the molecules that together compose a place, a home. Somewhere, in the acuteness of his eyes I recognized the surface of the world as seen from my dreamscape.

In the solitude of my own flight from familiarity, I recognized the contour of the world I would never, could never leave behind, as it is not mine to lose.

When I left the gallery the rain had stopped. On my way back I found comfort in the cadence of the city—its shadows and echoes, its lines and curves that cast the landscape of dream and memory for someone else. I found myself in a palace of memories I did not own and therefore could not see. I followed the tram lines through a labyrinth of translucent narratives, and I held tight to a timeless and unconditional nearness to home.

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“Not ripe until the third week of February”

I think I might make a tumblr for all the things I found in books (thanks to Nick and Allison for the genius book-deal/I’m-gonna-be-on-Oprah idea). So for now I’ll hold off on posting any more of those gems and share a glimpse of my holidays instead. I can’t believe I haven’t done that yet. Better late than never, eh, eh?

I was lucky enough to hop in the car and make the quick 14-hour drive from Bellingham down to Davis. I slept for a good third of it, waking from my slumber only to demand cinnamon rolls and to get harassed about not wearing my seat belt correctly by the officer giving us a speeding ticket. Suspiciously, he didn’t seem to know anything about the whereabouts of those cinnamon rolls.

So, with that, there’s nothing like taking a stroll through your hometown…starting with your childhood home.

Did I mention we have an orange tree in our front yard? Maybe I never mentioned the morning I woke up on the couch only to look out the window and see what appeared to be a homeless woman with a fruit picker– like the claw your grandma bought off an infomercial–picking oranges from our tree. Well, what actually woke me up was the sound of my dad opening the front door to yell as she ran off, “They’re not ripe until the third week of February!”

Sometimes you just have to be concerned about the sophisticated taste palette of the homeless woman with the claw.  Sorry, Dad, but this story never gets old.

Higglety Pigglety Pop or There Must be More to Life

By Maurice Sendak. Chapter 1.

Once Jennie had everything. She slept on a round pillow upstairs and a square pillow downstairs. She had her own comb and brush, two different bottles of pills, eyedrops, eardrops, a thermometer, and for cold weather a red wool sweater. There were two windows for her to look out of and two bowls to eat from. She even had a master who loved her.

But Jennie didn’t care. In the middle of the night she packed everything in a black leather bag with gold buckles and looked out of her favorite window for the last time.

“You have everything,” said the potted plant that happened to be looking out the same window.

Jennie nibbled a leaf.

“You have two windows,” said the plant. “I have only one.”

Jennie sighed and bit off another leaf. The plant continued.

“Two pillows, two bowls, a red wool sweater, eyedrops, eardrops, two different bottles of pills, a thermometer, and he even loves you.”

“That is true, ” said Jennie, chewing more leaves.

“You have everything,” repeated the plant.

Jennie only nodded, her mouth full of leaves.

“Then why are you leaving?”

“Because, ” said Jennie, snapping off the stem and blossom, “I am discontented.I want something I do not have. There must be more to life than having everything!”

The plant had nothing to say. It had nothing left to say it with.

Okay, these are some people I miss. More from Sweden to come, pinky swear.