Sometimes when I am walking home from my classes at 10 o’clock at night wondering if I’ll get mugged, or walking into a meeting smelling distinctly of goat after making the sweaty trek from my house to campus, I think (and never ever say out loud because that would be talking to myself and I don’t do that) “WHY IN THE NAME OF BEYONCE DID I DECIDE TO MOVE TO CALIFORNIA? WHY IS LOS ANGELES SO FAR FROM THE OCEAN? WHY DOES CHIPOTLE TASTE EXACTLY THE SAME HERE AS IT DOES IN GALLERYPLACE/CHINATOWN?”
My dad, being a native of the Wild West, likes to tell me the story of how my family of poor Irish (sort of German) common folk ended up over 6,000 miles away from their homes via Ellis Island and what sounds like more public transportation than I would care to imagine. They sent one man, let’s call him my great-great-great-great grandfather, to California so he could get a job and send for his wife and seven daughters (okay, I made that up, but I do know there were … some … daughters). It took a long time, a lifetime really, until the family was reunited. Eventually, my great-great grandfather married a Mexican woman named Ruth and she gave birth to my great grandfather, who lived in a small but stunning house somewhere off the 110. That house won a plaque for Most Beautiful House in the Neighborhood, which was on display on my great grandpa’s door in the hospice center in North Carolina where he died. Even on the East Coast, he wanted that piece of home with him.
I spend a lot of time here trying not to feel lonely. Sometimes it helps to think about my one lone relative who was responsible for moving across entire continents to find a new home for his family. I’ve also tried to relate more to other prominent “Western” figures:
Shockingly, this doesn’t always help. People keep telling me that it will take time to find roots here. So I try burritos at restaurants other than Chipotle and I sit outside at my little table and try to figure out how the sun is still glittering through the trees here when it has been dark for over two hours in Washington D.C. I text my parents too much. I text my boyfriend too much. Then I read a book, and it’s kind of sort of almost maybe (a bit like) home.