When I stepped out into the brightness and humidity that defines August in Los Angeles, I felt at home. Quite unexpectedly. Although I'm obviously more used to that climate than Colorado's, having grown up in the tropics, I distinctly knew that I was coming back to a home.
I say 'a' home because I don't really have just one--geographical places hold memories and nostalgia, and I feel home in Highlands Ranch, CO Springs, CO, Singapore, Rep. of Singapore, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia, Taipei, Taiwan (although that hasn't been tested since 13), Dover, NH, and LA. But people really cement 'home' for me. When place and people come together, then that's pretty much my true home of the moment. Thus far, it's still defined by my immediate family.
At least that's what I've deduced so far.
But anyhow, it was interesting this visit because I felt like I really could live in Los Angeles, or Azusa, Covina, Yorba Linda, whatever. Perhaps this reaction is because I JUST got back, and am really missing my old roomies. Also, before the visit I had convinced myself that I could never go back to the traffic and smog.
I guess I just want to make a disclaimer and prevent anyone from getting their hopes up: I don't plan to move back there anytime soon. I'd be more likely to move to Taiwan or Singapore or Korea or something and teach English or music. But most of the time, I'm content to get to know Colorado Springs; I hope that this year, I can really explore the place and more involved in church.
But disclaimer aside, here are a few reasons why I really like SoCal and miss:
1. pink orange creamsicle sunsets. I know it's the smog, I don't care.
2. palm trees and bouganvillia (sp?) and millions of flowers that I can't identify. Trees smothered in purple blossoms. heavier air that holds scents and lets them linger.
3. the BEACH!!!! Oh, I miss the beach. When I was there, I was fresh from Singapore, and I missed warm, tropical beaches. But it was just marvelous to go to Venice Beach and feel the salty breeze, see the sun reflecting off endless water and play in the waves. God, please let me live somewhere where there's an ocean nearby.
4. the crazy hippies and eccentrics and street performers and things happening!! Not to mention the music scene and jazz clubs. I love walking down a busy street crowded with people--that's totally Asia, too. But for the hippies, I probably just need to spend more time in Manitou. :>
5. food. The real Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Mexican, etc. food that you can find. mmmm
6. diversity. After walking out of the airplane into LAX, it was instantly a 100x more ethnically diverse than Colorado Springs.
7. Really a sub-point of 6 (but I'm not in school for the first time in oh, 17 years, so it DOESN"T MATTER!!!), the large Asian population. It was so fun meeting people and learning where they were from, and speaking Mandarin with them if they were from Chinese or Taiwanese.
Jen's roommate is Taiwanese, so I chatted with her about Taipei and what food she misses and how absolutely gross buttery rice is.
And when I got a pedicure and manicure with Step and Alison (my first pedicure!), I talked with Kim, the lady that was painting my nails.
Actually, we began the conversation by commenting on how hard it is to find a good man. :) hehe. Steph had mentioned to her and 47 million other people that she was getting married on Sunday, and Kim said that she was very lucky. I agreed, and thus began a very interesting conversation. She looked like she was in her early 30s at the oldest, but actually she was 50. She learned Vietnamese and then French, and English (which she spoke very fluently) was her third language. When Kim was 18, she moved to Hawaii and learned to hula dance for fun; she told me where to go on Waikiki Beach to learn how to hula. It was there she met her husband, and they moved to Arkansas. She then had three boys and was raising them in Arkansas, which she said was great for parenting; there was so much for the boys to do, and it was very safe. But then she divorced four years ago and moved out here, where she's a single mom with three teenagers.
What a brave woman; it would take some guts to first move to a new country without any family, and then to move again with your kids to another new place. She seemed a bit lonely. She had visited Vietnam a few years ago, and her boys had really enjoyed seeing the country.
We talked about a lot of different things, and Kim told me that her grandfather or father lived on the land in Vietnam. He had a garden and fruit trees and chickens, so he barely needed money. He had rice fields which he farmed for cash, and did well. I told her that I thought rice fields were very beautiful. There were many in Taiwan.
She also mentioned the corruption that still exists in the government there, and we talked about Singapore's government, too.
Why am I writing all of this? Well, partly because I must be faithful to my stream-of-consciousness scatterbrained long-winded posts, but also because there are such fascinating lives in the world. And we gloss over them and categorize them and de-humanize them so very quickly. I do it all the time, and it scares me.
So I wanted to just write about her. There have been so many people like her, and it seemed that I heard more people's stories when I lived in California. But again, that's probably because I've been so horribly busy this past year.
to close 6-sub-point, I love Los Angeles and its surrounding cities because millions of cultures mingle.
Oh, and Kim also played the bamboo flute--she and a few friends would play Vietnamese music as an outreach. I think she was a Christian because she had a cross, but we never officially delved into religion.
8. Of course, my friends there!! I was so blessed to see some of them again and spend time catching up. I'm trying to lure more to Colorado Springs... we'll see, we'll see.
Well, that's it. I could probably make an equal list for Colorado, or at least close. We'll give it a year.