Turns out Cali glow is a real thing, but California mythology is exactly that – mythology.
I went to visit some of my extended fam in-laws over the December break who live in San Fran, and had a chance to peek a preview at San Fran, LA and Murietta for almost two weeks.
Needless to say, urban textures and vegetation were my main interest after eating.
Whenever I arrive in a city whose mythology precedes it, my instinctual reaction is caution. What are truths, what are experiences, what are expectations, and what are rose-coloured lenses?
Because story and language are so fundamental to my experience of the world, I can’t help this self-awareness. “California” is a word that has become the stuff of legend. Golden as in desert. Golden as in Gold rush. Golden as in sunlight. Golden as in celebrity and fame.
As with everywhere else, mythology sustains dream, identity and belief. As with everywhere else, California is constructed from language.
So imagine me stopping to stare at a tree on the sidewalk, fascinated by the colouring, fascinated by the root structures, recognizing terrain and humidity and climate and realizing the desert is present.
What a welcome intrusion into my speculative wandering. The leaf round, the root gnarly, the tones dusty, the aloe thick. What a welcome intrusion into language. What a wonderful new language.
Desert is not an intuitive landscape in my mythologies. I am a child of the humid, tropical rainforest. But it feels familiar, and it intrigues me.
I’ll know I’ll be back for intimacy with the arid sun and the cold dunes.
I’m already pulling out the stories where sand is abundant.