It is unusual that I'll blog about my times back in the States because this is where I'm from and usually I'll just go on hiatus instead of continue writing, but in this case I thought it was necessary to write. After all this is a trip still (a business trip, of all things) and it isn't my home anymore...well, sort of.
I've realized after living in three different places other than my place of birth (San Jose is where I'm from, I spent a good chunk of my life in San Diego, then I moved to Helsinki and now live in London), that I have started to feel that I have multiple homes, rather than just a single home. I feel strong connections to the places I've lived and in turn, don't feel like I'm really "at home" in any one particular place. This, to put it simply, is a very confusing feeling. I won't go into great detail about it, since this wasn't the point of this post, but my feelings about it are very well summarized in this article.
Coming back to California this time was a bit different than previous trips I'd had. It was a business trip, yes, as many of my trips back had been (about half actually, since I moved out of the country), but instead of staying with my parents the whole time I would be staying with my sister during the work week, and this allowed me to see lots of other people I hadn't seen in awhile.
Who did I see, you ask?
Lovely married friends from San Diego who cooked me an amazingly delicious dinner of raclette and homemade (gorgeous) lemon meringue pie. I couldn't tear myself away from these people; it was like no time had passed at all and yet we hadn't seen each other in over a year.
The amazing American couple, J and M who I met in Helsinki and who had also departed Finland for greener pastures. They landed in California though, and were making their amazing career paths there. I had lunches with them separately due to their busy work schedules but it was great seeing both of them outside of the Finnish context. We had fun reminiscing and catching up about various friends we had kept in touch with as well as finding out what the other had been up to in the six months since we had seen each other.
JBL, who is always good at treating me to wonderful food and great conversation. We drove up a particularly windy mountain road to a little known cafe at the top to see gorgeous views. He knows I love to drive and hates having people in my car during technically difficult drives so...well, he continually pushes me to my limits. It was a good time.
Longtime study abroad travel buddy who I'd most recently seen during the Christmas season. Hilariously we went out and saw the last Twilight movie before gorging ourselves at The Cheesecake Factory last time we saw each other. Ah, fond memories. She's also the only friend I have who is married and has a baby. We were getting together to now gorge ourselves on Sweet Tomatoes (an awesome salad buffet that has the most cracky broccoli, raisin, cashew slaw this world has ever seen...I've literally made myself sick on it...multiple times). In a way I didn't foresee I made peace with her kid (I just have no affinity for children in life...never have and though I feel this will change in time it hasn't yet); when she left to get more salad he and I had a bonding moment that changed the way I thought about him.
And unexpectedly, a highschool acquaintance who got in touch with me to pick my brain about Scandinavia. Turns out his family is going to take a family vacation there during the summer and after seeing all of my pictures and check-ins on Facebook I guess he got the idea that I travel a lot (hm, I guess that impression could be gotten). So we got together for a quick coffee and I offloaded what knowledge I had. Weird seeing a highschool classmate after almost 10 years. We were basically the same people, just with jobs. Really, he looked basically the same. It was surprisingly good to talk with someone I barely knew a decade ago. We had a shocking amount of common views.
Needless to say it was busy seeing everyone, plus my sister, parents, grandparents and an aunt and uncle. This all inbetween full-time work and other work-related activities. I will admit, sometimes I do wonder how I schedule my life in my life.
And after seeing all of these people from various parts of my past, what did I feel? A cacophony of things, actually. Mostly, that it all felt surreal, seeing all of these people from different times in my life, but all in the same place at the same time. But also...people are all so different, but so very much the same. Everyone has something to complain about, something to be negative about. But it was so beautiful seeing people who really lit up the room with their smiles, their positive things to say. It was these moments, these people, that I really picked up something wonderful from. So I am going to try to incorporate this more into my life - the positive energy. People really pick up on it. It's so easy to be negative, to criticize, to complain about something. But why not just enjoy the great things that are going on in your life instead? There is so much to be thankful for.
The other thing that I really noticed, since I had three separate chances to go running around my childhood neighborhood and clear my head (as well as some of the enormous amounts of good food I was consuming on an almost constant basis) - I grew up in a really beautiful area. Lush and green, it's gorgeous. There really is no other place like it. I've seen enough places to know I'm from somewhere special. I feel that in the next 10 years I'll move back to California. I know that sounds vague, but really, it isn't. It's taken me 10 years to leave the States, it may take me 10 years to get back. Who knows what the future holds. Anything can happen, and that's okay. I'm no longer judging myself for the decisions I've made.
So, I left California enlightened. I hope to go back sometime before the holiday season but it'll depend on my project schedule more than anything. I guess we'll see. In the meantime, this is The Spreckled Hen, signing off.