So, my mother will disapprove, but I got another tattoo. And, with all the things I have to do and should be doing, spending Tuesday getting tattooed was probably not the wisest use of my time. But whatever. I'm transitioning. This is part of my process, a way of marking the occasion.
And although I have always wanted to live overseas, I have realized in contemplating this move that I feel very at home in California--more at home here than anywhere else I've been. Except maybe Austin. But that's Texas, my "where-I-was-born" home, so it doesn't really count in the same way.
California is the first place I've lived where I feel like I'm participating in the culture, rather than just observing it. I got along in Texas because I grew up there; I knew the landscape and understood the people out of our years of sheer proximity. But it was a one-way love, my Texas love. I never felt that Texas really loved me back. I never really belonged there--not in elementary school, when my mother caused a stir by quitting her job and going to medical school; not in junior high, where I argued with my biology teacher about evolution (he refused to teach it), and certainly not in high school, where I was trapped in some sort of social purgatory for slutty pot-smoking honor students.
But California loves a freak like me. Here, I fit in precisely because I'm a little bit different. Here, my tattoos and my biracial family are not really the norm, but they're not anomaly, either. Californians are more than tolerant of weirdness--they embrace weirdness. I feel like I'm a part of what's going on here. Californians are politically liberal (out here we say "progressive," which sounds more hip), ethnically diverse, and we like to get outside. And if you lived in California you'd like to get outside, too, because it's the most beautiful state in the Union, and one of the prettiest places on earth. We've got Tahoe, Yosemite, Malibu and Death Valley. We've got San Francisco, one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities in the world, and Los Angeles, a hideous hag of a town, but wildly entertaining. And the weather--well, I suspect you've heard about the weather.
When we visited London in April, looking for housing, we sometimes told people that we were moving over from California. On two separate occasions--a woman on the street and a student in the train station--each looking sort of mortified, asked "Why?" as if we'd just told them we were auctioning off our children on eBay. Seriously, they couldn't have been more confused or horrified. And the second time it happened I realized what a shining little gem California is in the eyes of the world, and how lucky we are to have a home here.
So, although I have always considered myself Truly a Texan, and I will always get riled when people talk ugly about Texas (as they are prone to do), I am offically and publicly declaring my undying love and allegiance to my more glamorous and popular home of California. As the Govenator might say:
I'll be back.