An atmospheric river is currently bearing down on California right now. Here in San Francisco, the rain brings mental images of wet asphalt and red traffic lights. For me, the rain also brings back other memories that go deep back in to time. About 20 years ago I left my home in Georgia, “headed for” the ‘Frisco Bay, but the path wasn’t direct.
Despite leaving before I even got to high school, as my birthplace, I still often consider Atlanta my home. The Falcons, the Hawks, and the Braves are still the teams I call “my teams” in their respective sports. The memories that come to mind with the rain are mid-summer afternoon thunderstorms. I can still picture the lightning crashes lighting up the sky, which I observed through our glass “screen door”. I’d often be riding my bike up and down the street, trying to get the speedometer to read out a higher and higher number.
Foggy, rolling hills and the smell of fresh manure in the morning. In middle school I moved to Chino Hills in Southern California. The rolling hills behind Crape Myrtle Circle was home to a herd of cows. It never rained all that much there, so when it did it was somewhat of a treat to listen to the pitter patter of drops lulling me to sleep.
One night in junior high, my entire church youth group had a slumber party at our house. It was supposed to be a “lock-in”, but around midnight a few of us wandered out the garage and in to the street. We looked to the sky and opened our mouths arms spread out without a care in the world, basking in the street lights not caring if we were drenched.
My freshman year of college I had my own bedroom in an 8 person suite. There were 4 “singles” and 2 “double” bedrooms. Each bedroom was designed so that it had a window, but mine was overlooking a small courtyard on the corner. When it rained, I would open up the windows that were at waist height and were hinged at the top, to increase the noise of drops falling from the sky as I slept or ~studied~ played [Counter-Strike]. I can still imagine the tiny desk lamp I had shining in the dark (the overhead florescents were too much) and the booming of AWPs.
My first apartment after college was in a downstairs studio of a bungalow on Bee St in Sausalito, just down the street from Sushi Ran. It had 8 foot ceilings and, having no garage or spare storage at the time, I kept my car exhaust parts and spare car wheels in the front room next to my Xbox. As the clouds started to sprinkle I would often walk out past the white picket fence and down to Caledonia to grab a coffee, purposely leaving the umbrella behind.
From now on, I’ll probably think of tonight… water is flowing off the window sill to my right and in to the patio below. The kids are fast asleep and my wife is out for a friend’s birthday dinner. I am doing what I do best. Sitting in the dark with the dull glow of the iMac, reminiscing about “family” and “home”.
It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.
- Andrew Largeman from Garden State