Wednesday, August 22, 2007

California, Here I Come (from)

Here is an excerpt of my time in CA, which I am still slowly coming down from...

Aug 9th 2007

Been dying to give a summary of my time here, and there's just been no darn time! Mostly, I wish I could tell you how strange it is to be here. How I am still shocked to have so many people smiling at me every day (it's almost creepy sometimes). How shopping in Walgreen's the other day verged on being a religious experience (oh my god - waxed dental floss! cheap paper products! 50 kinds of toothpaste! all sorts of things I never knew I needed, laid out on gleaming, well-stocked shelves! I could have wept with gratitude. Needless to say, I dropped about 100 bucks and I still don't know exactly what I bought).

I wish I could tell you how strange it is to walk down the street in Oakland - at NINE IN THE MORNING - and hardly see any people. Isn't 9 a.m. rush hour? Well yes - so naturally, people are not on the streets, they are on the freeways. Remember the freeways? What an ironic name for something which holds the whole Bay Area hostage. I forgot how spread-out it is here, how suburban in a way: overcrowded with people at every major intersection (and Whole Foods) and yet astonishingly empty in so many spots.

I wish I could tell you how like a scared, silly tourist I feel sometimes - how ridiculously scared I am of the gun violence, which I took for granted when I lived here (or perhaps buried under layers of denial.. and potato chips). But is it me that's ridiculous - or the events themselves that verge on the surreal? "Newspaper Editor Shot in Broad Daylight" "Teen Sprays Machine-Gun Fire at Passing Cars" - etc, etc.

And yet - amidst all these scary headlines and urban blight there is such a lovely, peaceful, almost blissful sense of place - the soft green and gold hills above Berkeley, the hummingbirds flitting about in the lemon tree outside my window, the foggy nights and sunny days, the funky music playing in the coffeehouse, the funky people wearing their colorful clothes and giving out their flyers against the war... people who seem to care, who seem so badly to want a different make this one better...

Land of extremes, indeed...I am still reeling from the enormity of it all - both physical and psychic... France feels like a child's Lego project in comparison...


Blogger Angela said...

California (and Walgreens) is not the same without you, Caroline. We all miss you!

5:29 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

thank you for this wealth of post-trip postings -- it's as if your visit here was extended, and we magically squeezed in several more walks and conversations, even if we never did manage to fit in that walk around lake merritt! xo

6:28 PM  

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