Thursday, December 30, 2010

California for Christmas

I missed the snow ... again. Last week, while New York was suffering under the onset of Snowpocalypse, I was visiting friends and family out in the Bay Area. This is the second year in a row I have missed a massive snowstorm, last year we were in Thailand and this year in California. One of the best parts of the East Coast is the weather, and while not everyone agrees, I think the snow is a major part of that ... Still, Cali was sweet this winter, and I was happy to be there ... as always the purpose of the trip is to see as many of my people as possible in as short a time - well, not really but it often feels that way. Still, I was really lucky and got to see everyone I wanted to, although not for as much time as I would have liked. I got out late on Christmas eve, and spent the next morning eating breakfast with with my Dad and Peg before heading up to SF on BART to spend the day eating, drinking and watching movies (Return of the Jedi and Southpark; Bigger, Longer and Uncut - I had actually never seen Southpark and, as expected, it was hilarious and quite beyond the bounds of any kind of taste) with Dave, his new fiance Lindsey (who is awesome and was definitely the highlight of the SF trip), Danny and some of Dave's friends. A generally great day, punctuated by delicious ham and mustard sandwiches and a good number of delicious whiskies (I find that the Macallan 18 Fine Oak is quite nice).

I headed back down to Dave and Em's place to spend the night, so I could wake up Sunday morning and play with their son Ethan and their new daughter Allison (not so much playing with Allison as looking at her - she is 10 days old, but quite cute as you can see in the picture to the right). But Ethan, he is up for playing, and walking all over the place, so that's what we did, as you can see in the pictures scattered throuhout this post - we walked all over the neighborhood, up past Broadway and back down, and spent some time teaching Ethan about rocks and leaves and drains, ending up at the neighborhood park when Neal and Terri showed up. Neal, being infallible, taught Ethan a little about riding a motor cycle and we all just kind of appreciated being around each other ... and appreciated the brilliance of making a line-of-sight park. The rest of the day was pretty much just hanging out around Burlingame, although we did (sans Emily and the kids) head over to the Steelhead brewing company for lunch. In the late afternoon, Jane and Glenn, Dave's parents, also came by and we all hung out with the kids for a little while longer until Neal and Terri dropped me off at my Dad's for dinner and yahtzee.

The next two days were taken up with my fathers storage locker and our past, as we spent time looking through dozens of albums and lose pictures, books and all kinds of memorabilia from the last 20 years, such as swords and war maces, seder plates and the Lord of the Rings books on which I learned to read. We went through everything from years of cub and boy scout pictures to the framed pictures and certificates hanging on the walls of the house I grew up in to the old artwork friends of my parents did for movies that never got made in the '60's. It was a pretty emotional set of days, punctuated by a burrito with Ryan and dinner at Max's Opera Cafe (which, I discovered with my new-found East Coast savvy, is essentially a diner).

It was actually a pretty tough thing to do, and it often felt like we were throwing away the past ... although I know what we were really doing is looking at a lot of identical things we had not touched in 10 years + and picking out a few that were meaningful. And we did keep a lot, but still, it was tough. Tuesday night, after going through everything and sending several boxes back to NY for me, my Dad and I made stuffed portabello mushrooms for he, Peg and myself to have for dinner, then my parents went to a movie while I went out for a drink with Dave in Burlingame. And then Wednesday I got up and with only a few delays, got back to NY late but still fairly easily ... as always when I visit California, I am tremendously sad to leave and the whole flight back is always filled with the formulation of different strategies by which my life could take me back there to live. It was a really fun, but really tough visit in equal parts, but I am so glad to have been able to go and only hope to make it out again soon ..

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