I've been dreading writing this letter for some time now. But, here I am, alone on a plane flight home to you, and so I'm cornered with my thoughts (if only in effort to ignore the loud talking woman a couple rows up from me). Sigh.
California. You mean so much to me. You hold so much, so many memories, so many dreams that I watched and lived and breathed and loved. Ours is a romance never to be forgotten.
When I was in fourth grade, I remember looking up at the stars and thinking that it must be the most magical job in the universe to touch stars and see them up close. It must be the most magnificent job to be an astronaut then, I thought. But, I didn't want to be an astronaut. Not really. I did, however, want to be magnificent in some way. I thought about it for a while and decided that the best way to be an astronaut AND be anything else I ever wanted to try was to become an actress. After all, actors get to pretend to be all kinds of things, even astronauts! So that way I would get to be everything- and what's more magnificent than to be everything? So that was it. I wanted to be an actress, and to really do that, I would need to move to Hollywood and live in California. It was decided then, in my Kansas farm girl mind...I was meant to live in California.
If you know anything about me, then you know that once I get an idea in my head it doesn't die easily. So, then, this dream of you, California, forged on in the years to come. Maybe you didn't know I originally wanted to be a Hollywood starlet, and maybe you didn't know that that dream emerged due to my obsession with all things space related...but I did, and I was, and so there you go.
California, you've always welcomed me with open arms. Being raised in the middle of Kansas, I had preconceptions that you were full of wealthy and beautiful people who all lived on the beach and wore white bathing suits and sunglasses and went to Disneyland on lunch breaks. I supposed you had sunshine daily and everyone was busy and popular all the time and nobody really cared who was who until you were somebody worth knowing. Not all these stereotypes repulsed me, and certainly not all of them were found to be true. But, all in all, I can say that my adventures in and around you, California, have exceeded all my expectations.
California, you hold real, genuine, deeply thoughtful and poignant souls. You contain people who have shaped and molded not only my heart, but my spirit and mind as well. And I'm the better for it, no doubt. You will forever be the location where my favorite people in the universe were all born- the birthplace of my husband and my children.
California, your oceans and mountains and cities have brought a me such joys. My babies left footprints in your sand. My feet have sunk into the grains of your beauty, and yet you are the one leaving an impression on me. I've felt your earthquakes and experienced the fear and relief of your California fires. You remind me that you are a dangerous beauty, risky and seductive all the same. It should be no surprise you provide the world with so much mischief, drama, and entertainment.
California, you inspire me. My time here makes me look back in awe of how much God can bring about in such a raindrop's worth of time. How many people have invested in my life. How many prayers of others have provided direction and strength. How many changes that happened here have transformed me into the person I'm striving to become.
I may have been born and raised in Kansas; but clearly, I grew up in California.
California, my time here has been challenging, lovely, intentional, joyful, and too short. If those are the same words I use when I look back at the end of my life and reflect upon my journey, I'll die a happy woman.
I will always love you, California. Please keep my dear ones here happy and safe. Please continue to provide worthwhile inspiration for those farm kids out there who are scared to enter into your mischief. Please don't drift off into the ocean (I still want to visit!)
Jesus loves you, California, and so do I. Maybe I was born in Kansas. Maybe I'll die someday in Tennessee. But, let it be known and never forgotten: I lived in California.
Thank you, my California. Don't forget me.