In early April, I had just gotten waitlisted for my top choice university, realized that I had spent most of high school not focusing on things that were really important to me, and, above all, felt drained and deenergized.
The timing was perfect. I didn't have time to wallow; the next morning I boarded a flight at 4 in the morning and whisked away to the city of my dreams (literally, but I'll get to that later): San Francisco.
Looking out of the window as we entered California, I knew at once that it was where I wanted to be. I was still crying, but this time it was more out of sheer shock at the total beauty and energy of the place. When we landed, it seriously felt like coming home.
We visited Burlingame, SF proper, Berkeley, Palo Alto, Sonoma County, and then traveled all the way down to San Diego with stops at Carmel, Monterrey and LA along the way. It's unfortunate that my camera was out of batteries while we were in Sonoma/wine country and Carmel/Monterrey.
I had been having dreams in which I walked up to the beginning of my neighborhood and saw this wide expanse of lush rolling green hills lined with crooked picket fences that followed the land, dotted with large mansions filled with friendly, smiling people. While we were driving through Sonoma County, I looked out the car window and saw that place from my dreams. It was like magic.
When we were at the gift shop in the Japanese gardens, a squirrel ran into the shop and of course all the customers started freaking out. We were all trying to chase it out of the shop, afraid that it would break something, but then the tiny little Japanese women who worked the cash register scuttled out screaming "No, no! She wants her breakfast!" She held out a little rice cracker for Keiko, as the squirrel was called. Each of the squirrels in the garden that regularly came into the shop had its own name. It was possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen :)
Solvang! So pretty. And they have the best Danish pastries; I really can't eat Danishes anywhere else now!
So there you are. The colors, the movement, the vibrancy of the Bay Area swept my heart away. Half my heart will always belong on the east coast, but the other half... it's found its promise land in San Francisco, where the energetic culture seeped deep into my skin. I've never really stopped pining for SF since I got back, and my wonderful memories serve as the perfect motivation to work hard and live life to the fullest. I don't know when I'll finally live there on my own; whether it be grad school or post-school, I'll find my way back.
p.s.: Two days after my birthday and the second business day that the university started pulling people off its waitlist? I got a very special phone call :) If I can't be in San Francisco for now, at least I can be in another place that I feel perfectly at home in.