27 July 2012

Dear Arcata

This week I'm leaving you. It's not you, it's me. Actually it's my husband. No, actually it's God.  I knew I couldn't stay here when I showed up.  I'm sad, but not disappointed.

Arcata, I'm writing to say thank you.  Thank you for one year's vacation.  Thank you for giving me the gift of knowing myself better.  Thank you for space to breathe.  Thank you for convincing me to finally get those red streaks in my hair.  When I get back to Oklahoma there will be teal, or maybe purple.  So people will know I'm yours.

And I am.  I fit in here.  It's so ethereal and mostly indescribable, but I've never felt more at home.  Everyone seems to think the way I do.  Or when they don't, it's okay.  A Rent lyric sums it up best: "To being an 'us' for once, instead of a 'them'!"

The fact that I came here, "found my geographical bliss" (to quote my father), and am now being boomeranged back to where I came from sounds pretty unfair from the outside, I guess.  But it doesn't feel that way to me.  There's an important feeling that I want to remember -- The way I feel in Oklahoma is the way we should all feel here on earth.  It's not the place I'm supposed to be, and now I know that there is somewhere better.  The Promised Land is waiting for me.  But first I have to go through the desert.  (Arcata, in this metaphor you are Canaan.)

An apt metaphor, I think, considering your amazing beauty and fertility.  Here nothing struggles to survive.  Everything just grows.  The trees are enormous, the plants are colorful.  Even the bugs are totally chill.  And most importantly, the sun is our friend, not our enemy. 

But I'll be on the lookout for you, Arcata.  And whenever I find your spirit in Oklahoma, I'll stick close.  And when I don't find it, I'll remember you.  I'll remember how I felt every time I saw hitchhikers on the Plaza, or a young woman riding her bike in a skirt with her yoga mat strapped across her back. The way I felt the first time I heard a Christian over the age of 50 make a joke at the expense of the Republican Party.  How amused I was when I realized that my city-issued recycling trash can is 5 times larger than my city-issued garbage trash can.  The generous and nomadic spirit embodied in the numerous front yard "free piles" that pop up every week.

Maybe someday I'll be back. You are where old hippies go to die, after all.


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