I could write a letter about love or a love a million different ways. I choose this one: messy, incomplete, and, I hope, full of heart. Because I mean (and meant) every ounce of it.
I heard it once when I was roaming the streets, about a girl, that if you can’t fall in love with her, then you couldn’t fall in love with anybody else. I heard it again through the different faces I came across in the past two years — the years I’ve been with her — and they have their own versions, but all of them, have learned to love.
When you first meet her, you have these ideals and expectations. The constant sunshine that peeks out from the theatre curtains of fog, and smoking bowls and eating bowls of clam chowder. (These bowls are made of bread! Who’s the genius that came up with that? And then brought it to Santa Barbara at Buddha Bowl?)
After the first six weeks, you sort of understand how she works. How she manages her time from carrying people from place to place, or how she manages to make a day beautiful, no matter the rain or shine. And after the first year, you realize it like anybody else does, whether it be one weekend out of fifty two or New Year’s Eve, that you could never have found a more wonderful place in your heated heart or in your watered eyes. What I mean is San Francisco. What I mean is a place you could never imagine moving away from. The start ups, the people, the culture, the old city the beats saw to the new city with its Lyft and its new app where you can have people order take out for you, and deliver it to your work or home.
But after leaving her. After saying bye to all of those who’ve shared this open affair I’ve had with her for the past two years, I’ve realized something more, Elvin. Sitting at my bedroom desk here at home in Orange County, with my laptop screen illuminating my face, having my heart race every time headlights flood through my shutters, waiting for a text that’ll pull me out of the house, and when I’m actually out, I’m bored, and want nothing more to be back in my bed. All these things were a kind of love that I missed, that I didn’t realize I had when I left, and came back to it. At the bottom of stuffed drawers, and in the back of my closet, I forgot the love my parents brought me up with. I appreciate and thank them for teaching me this love that I didn’t even realize I brought to San Francisco. Did I teach San Francisco a thing or two about love? I’d like to think so. I like to think I left something there.
But then I remember San Diego, and my first time there. Where I discovered literature outside the small chain of Barnes and Nobles. There’s this bookstore there next to a Buffalo Exchange that holds a quarter of my library at home. At least once a summer I go,and pick something up. There’s some kind of love ingrained in this relationship I hold with San Diego.
The same goes for Los Angeles, an hour away from my home. Where another friend I met in SF came from, when I stopped by her hometown Koreatown, lunching at a Yellow House cafe. And where my best friend is studying at UCLA. Where we saw Grimes, and Justin Vernon, a week from each other. Where I had my car towed in the Jack in the Box across from the Amoeba record store, and where I almost got my car totaled in an accident that happened in front of a hookah place all because I stole an Empire of the Sun poster for their latest album (or so I’d like to think). I have you know this all happened in one night, with two of the best people in my life.
And let’s not forget about Santa Barbara, where the boys are always looking for trouble, and where the girls are most pretty. The fantastic parties that follow a domino effect, on a single street. Where the mollies are just as good as the ones in Orange County for those who dedicate their entire year’s savings for EDC. Another good friend goes to school here. (And if you ever wanna know what he’s like, listen to Wolf Like Me
by TV On the Radio).
And I realize, now, that it wasn’t just San Francisco. It was all of California. I understand why Joan Didion spent most of her literature. nonfiction, and life here. It has something to do with the sunrises and sunsets. It has something to do with how different each county/city is completely different from another. It’s got something to do with love.
You’ll have the best affair here with a state like no other, if, only for a weekend.
That’s California for you, Elvin. I hope you see it sometime with me. You won’t ever regret it.
p/s: I remember this girl from high school who I used to make movies with, that had a sweet sense of style and always smelled of an unmade bed and baked cookies. Whenever she had a bad day, she’d let out her Charlie Brown sigh, and say, “Today might be a sad day, but at least it’s a sad day in sunny California.”
pp/s: follow rad Elvin here