Friday, October 29, 2010

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I have lived in California for over 30 years, over half of my life, having spent the first 25 years growing up in Connecticut. Somewhere during that time, California became "home" to me, the "home" I would long to return to after a long vacation or after visiting friends and family "back East".

Thirty years is a long time to live in one place. But I remember exactly when California first felt like home to me. I had been living in California for about three years. I had just returned from a trip to the East Coast and was so glad to see the golden brown hills of northern California, dotted with dark green oak trees, and the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean, foaming white waves crashing against the seemingly endless shore. Glad to return to our small, rented wooden cottage just south of Stanford University, to a mild temperature winter, and relaxed and accepting California attitudes.

And yet, there was a time, years later, when I thought about returning to Connecticut -- I would return after my son had graduated from high school, in order to spend more time with my five siblings and parents. But life has a way of not always turning out the way you expect. My son never graduated from high school, and when he was killed in his senior year of high school, I realized that California was where I truly belonged, where I truly felt at home. And California is where I have stayed.

Don't get me wrong - in my very worst of times, my family has always been there to support me, immediately and without question. And I would not hesitate to move back East if there were a family crisis, either theirs or mine. My siblings and I have an incredibly tight bond. I might not always have the luxury of living in California, which I love so well, but I am blessed with a loving family, which is something that not everyone experiences.

And while I'd hate to choose between the two, if it came down to that, I know I would move back East. I might be homesick for California for a long time, and I would definitely come back to visit every once in a while, but I know deep down inside that my love for my family trumps all, even my beloved California.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sean, Ten Years Gone

My son, Sean, left this world ten years ago today, on a cool October evening shortly after sunset. A young life cut far too short.

I miss you Sean. I miss you every day of my life. I will love you forever.

Forever and ever.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


All Hallows Eve. The night of ghosts and goblins and witches and black cats and haunted houses. The night when spirits from the afterworld are said to come back to visit the earthly realm. A night rooted in pagan mythology and old Celtic religion.

And, my favorite holiday, that is, right after Thanksgiving. (Turkey and pie and friends and family and no gifts or proscribed religious services -- what holiday could be a better than that? Well, if you are a kid, perhaps one that comes with lots of candy.)

I think Halloween was my favorite holiday as a kid. My siblings and I would start thinking about what we were going to "be" for Halloween as soon as the leaves started turning color in the autumn coolness of the East Coast that descended every year in early October. We didn't buy costumes back then; we made them ourselves, from our parents' discarded clothing and whatever scraps we could scrounge for props from the garage or attic.

It appears that Halloween is a very popular holiday, at least in my San Jose neighborhood, if front yard decorations are any indication (especially fake spider webs and tombstones). In fact, according to the press, Halloween is second in popularity only to the Christmas holiday season, at least in terms of money spent. Who would think people would spend so much money on costumes, decorations and candy?

I guess Halloween is as good a reason as any to throw one heck of a party.