i was on pool duty at work the other day (yes, this truly is a california psych. hospital, all they need are manicures and massages), and a new patient started chatting with me. i felt a sudden excitement and calm take over me all at once; he had the thickest '"i sound like i'm talking with a mouth full of mashed potatoes" tennessee accent. i encouraged him to keep talking, which he did; about how he's in his 50's and should probably stop dating 20 year olds. he went on to explain that he preferred foreign women over americans because he found foreign women to be more intelligent and cultured. he then informed me that his girlfriends were primarily young filipinos. aaah, yes, cultured in the fine art of pot-bellied, ear haired, yellow toothed middle aged men battling substance abuse and chronic mental illness. i asked him if he ever missed TN and he looked at me like i was mad; probably the same look i give people when they ask if i want to go back and live in england.
the other week i found myself in the unfortunate company of a girl who must have been in her mid to late twenties that had transplanted herself from cincinatti to san diego (said with much relief). she has certainly adopted the SoCal female criteria; the extra boobage, a dark "woodstain your deck" all over tan, and what im starting to think is the local accent- a sort of low pitched, nasally tone that sounds like she is moving a couple of ice cubes around her mouth while she is talking. she said i must be sooooooooooooo relieved to not be living in kentucky anymore. what the hell? before i moved there for grad school i had assorted americans, who had never even set a barefoot in ky, advising me to accept the offer to go to school in boston.
i have a stinking case of poison oak right now (apparently it's a west coast thing, whereas poison ivy is an eastern thing), and i think about the poison ivy i had last year while riding my bike on the trails at otter creek and cherokee park; those fun switchbacky trails with a canopy of leaves giving you shade (of course i'm choosing to edit out the suffocating humidity), and logs to jump over- a different kettle of fish trails here.
running in balboa park is not like running in cherokee, i do not see lots of people i recognize and stop to chat with evey few minutes. there is no elusive boobman to have a sighting of, or the guy that runs and breathes like a steam train. or that girl plugged into her headphones who swings her arms like a malfunctioning windmill. or the shirtless, tan in a bottle, bleached out hair gay dude in gold shorts running in the opposite direction of the loop. or the rollerblade guy dressed up in a boiler suit going up and down dog hill. or the ponytailed, bearded guy in the wheelchair rolling himself around, but always in the centre of the road and traffic.
it comes back to the people (my tribe), places, and of course 1,001 ways to feed my face.
there is no qdoba- baja fresh's guacamole sucks, but chipotle is alright. no pho soup from lemongrass, no won ton soup and steamed won tons with chunks of garlic and cilantro from thai siam. bbc burgers and garlic fries, highland coffee blended mocha freezes with chocolate whipped cream, richo's upside down pizza. walking past huge groups of people waiting to go into ramsi's and wondering why the hell it's so popular as it is so overpriced for what you get, as i make my way to kashmir for garlic naan and elephant poo curry. french silk pie at the homemade ice cream and pie kitchen. funky lynn's paradise cafe's homemade granola and pancakes the size of frisbees. the little dude at walgreens on baxter who lisps at me to "have a nice day, ma'am". the churches on every street corner, although i did see a huge mormon church here that looks like a cross between the disney cinderella's castle and the ice queen's castle.
i miss not running into people i know, even when it's late at night and i'm in my pj's with my hair scragged back and i think it's a safe bet to nip out and get some milk because it's late enough that no one i know will be at mid city mall at this time but they inevitably are. i miss the seasonal things; st. james art fair and trying not to collide with all the families clutching the garden ornament to have this season. st. joes picnic, and the biggest daddy of them all, the kentucky state fair. i have gone to the fair the last 4 years, always with excellent company, to get my fill of some quality people watching (but trying to avoid running into clients from work). i have witnessed flying mormons, super-sized teenagers with huge over bites and thick, luscious mullets pushing "junior" around in a stroller while letting their muffin tops and g-strings hang out to dry. i have laughed til my cheeks and stomach have ached, and have ridden the ferris wheel to the sounds of kid rock.
i miss the local news and media personalities; the cheesy commercials for the kentucky hammer, daryl isaacs. christopher 2x on TV is a shiny suit and tie being interviewed about anything related to the city's racial divide. the guy who reads the sports on i forget which channel, but he looks like a claymation character that nick parks (of wallace and grommet fame) dreamed up. breathy derek scott on fox 41 who can make a water main burst sound like a national emergency.
home is where you start from. where you grow up and eventually where you leave. i hated leaving home the first time, i had no idea i would have to go through it all over again. loo-ah-vull; there really is no other place like it.