The Nation State of California
Day #25 Shelter in Place
I have been sheltering in place since March 17, 2020. I am very fortunate to live in California and my Governor, Gavin Newsom, happens to be an incredibly awesome individual. We are not COVID-19 free, but we are doing somethings right.
Gavin Newsom procured masks and PPE (from CNN News} "saying "enough is enough" when it comes to states competing for vital equipment, "We're confident we can supply the needs of the state of California and potentially the needs of other Western states."
California. I love you.
When I was a teenager I bought Joni Mitchell's album, Blue I was a sophomore in HighSchool and I was living in Bangkok, Thailand. This Album. There were songs that seemed to define me, it was as if I had lived the lives of all the characters that populated this album. "The Last Time I Saw Richard" hit home (my best bud was Richard), "California", I desperately wanted to live there. And then "River", no words.
California. All good things must pass . . . Fast forward to 1972 and now I am living in the sticks, in Texas, Austin to be exact. This is long before Austin was cool. Austin now has SXSW, great music venues, vibrant street scene and a killer downtown. Austin is one of the coolest towns in the world (it really is, I've been back !) and SXSW is now streaming all of the films folks missed due to the pandemic, on Amazon prime.
Back to California.
My dream came true. I moved to Oakland in 1975 and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Oakland was my new home. I felt comfortable again, it was a multi-cultural city (that is how we described a place with people of color way back then). I was home again. My days in Oakland remain some of my fondest memories and when I transferred to Sonoma State University my friends from Oakland made my transition bearable by coming to visit, playing shows all around Sonoma County, bringing the Funkadelic Vibe that I love soooo very much to this day.
Oakland, home of FUNK, home of Lake Merritt, great public transportation, you could get to SF in a flash with BART, you could go to FairyLand with your crazy buddy Craig and literally stay up all night in a city that would be open for the night owl lifestyle. I had so many wonderful and crazy, off beat, city lover friends. My roommate was from Jamaica, my buddies from Laney were from NYC, my boyfriend from Flatbush. I will never forget Joel, Richard #2 and Sean. We went to summer school together and were a band of gypsies that had adventures and misadventures. We had to say goodbye at the end of summer, it broke my heart-Sean with his silk and feather scarves and boas, Joel with his new agey massages, and Richard, who opened up the world of San Francisco and fine dining dinner parties that knocked my sock off. Finally Eric, a film student, crazy as a loon, who introduced me to film (photography and motion pictures). I am indebted to him to this day. My love of film is a source of mental joy and stimulation.
It was very hard to say goodbye to these cast of characters and sadly we didn't all stay in touch. There is one hold out, my dear friend Bruce and his wife Sima. Bruce left for NYC and married his dancer, Sima, I inherited his dog, Bebop and we were fortunate to travel together to Spain in 2018 for my nephew's wedding, (Check out FunkMaster Bruce playlist on Spotify). It was with a heavy heart I left Oakland and made the move to Sonoma County.
I still love California.
I wasn't all that enamored with Sonoma County. My 'international' lifestyle disappeared. I wasn't prepared for the laid back, new agey scene that defined SOCO in the 70's. I couldn't believe there were bumper stickers that said "Disco Sucks". Really ? Not in my life. I still, to this day, long to spread my wings and take off. Can't do it, grew old, and put roots down that cannot be pulled up.
Now we are living with COVID-19. The notion of a get-away is a long and distant memory. One has to live by the credo, 'be here now'. I have learned to make my world as diverse as possible, not easy in this area. I have made my home my castle. I dream of once again traveling. The trip to Thailand is on hold, going back to CDMX is on hold as well and Red Rock in June just ain't gonna happen. Fingers crossed for Christmas on a small farm tucked into the rural hills of Sonoma County.
I turn to film and books to bring a more diverse viewpoint into my life. I have so many people that have turned me onto all kinds of music and literature. Too many to list, maybe that is a separate post. I am still learning to live here. I am grateful for my beautiful home and neighborhood, I love walking the trails around the Lake, not too enamored of the North Coast beaches, maybe just seen their cold and forbidding waters a bit too much. I long for the warm oceans that I grew up with. I love the rolling hills, the farms, the little towns tucked into those hills. But I long for the cities that are no longer at my fingertips. The next best thing is to devote this 'Stay Home' time to learning and taking this enormous amount of free time to broaden my mental and physical horizons. Dance every day, lift some weights, read every day, sit in the sun, plan my garden, get my creative ya-yas out, talk to friends and family on a daily basis and finally, I am friggin grateful for my life, for my children and my partner. I am damn lucky, and I know it.
I love California, no matter the limitations of my immediate surroundings. I am completely aware that the forward thinking Governor has protected and taken great measures to keep Californians as safe as humanly possible in this time of COVID-19. When speaking about the Coronavirus he has done what the federal government will not do. He is going it alone, he is sharing our vast resources with several states throughout our country, and I kinda wish we were our own little country. Whenever travel resumes and I am asked where I am from I will no longer say my town, I will say California. And I will be on the first plane to Brooklyn to see my youngest kid, now man.
I am so proud to say I live in
The Nation State of California.
Thanks for indulging me. I hope all of you folks out there, near and far, stay well, stay engaged and hopefully are spending these days with someone you love.
My mind is full of memories, in part, I am an old woman and in part, I have a lot of time on my hands. So I am sharing and for what it is worth, it is a personal exercise that just makes my heart feel full. I miss my friends near and far, family near and far, and whenever the 'shelter in place' is lifted I am going to see my oldest child and his partner and their kitties. I dream of a new normal, hoping that we learn from this experience and rebuild our country with The Nation State of California in our rear view mirror.
I love California.