If all goes well, Mr. Fatty Pants and I should be on a plane heading to the Land of Milk and Honey in a few short hours.

So perhaps this is a good time to reflect, reconnect, and take some time to offer you a very subjective and personal portrait of San Diego . And so the story begins…

It was on a most ordinary evening sometime in February of 2001 that we gathered around our table in the living room of our modest apartment in St.Louis. Dad had something he wanted to tell us. We sat down and without due introduction, he announced, “Today I am going to tell you something that will change the rest of your lives.” Well I guess that was his introduction.

He proceeded to tell us that his boss had been offered a new position and a laboratory to head up at the University of California in San Diego . The boss had picked a few lucky scientists and invited them to come along. Dad was one of them. Yes, there were palm trees, yes the tide came in slowly and sang songs of yore on the great Pacific Ocean, yes there were even pelicans and sea lions and snorkeling to be done and perfect weather to be enjoyed. But there was a catch: I had to come along.

Let me explain: I was about to graduate high school, I had already applied and been accepted to several universities (none of them 2000 miles away in California), and now out of the blue…Dad was still talking, “…and there is an actual eucalyptus grove right on campus…great academics, prestigious, we could drive there in the mornings together…Bottom line: you go to the university there – we all go. If you don’t want to go, that’s fine too. We all stay here. It’s up to you. No pressure.”

It would be grossly naïve to think that I actually had a choice.

Loving that sky - so vast...

First impressions: Dad’s driving the Lizard (my sister) and me home from the airport. It is night and as (what later proved) usual, there is a low haze hanging over the city, reflecting the red and orange lights in a stifling sci-fi glow that makes the hilly terrain all the more other-worldly. I do not like it at all. But then there is sleep, and morning – a fresh, salty breeze, bright bright sun, and yes, the puffy clouds a-sailin’.

Sail away!

I cannot describe the loneliness of those great rolling hills, the drives to and from the university that followed, the peaceful conversations with Dad, and more loneliness on campus as all those around me made friends and I was left on the outside as the girl who lived at home. I certainly don’t regret it. Neither can I describe that vast, overpowering sky, the millions of stars at night, the strange glossy plants and the dry season. If you have seen the Truman Show , I am convinced it was filmed in SoCal, in a random suburban neighborhood where the streets are so clean you can walk outside with just socks and no shoes on, not because the streets are swept, but because it never rains and there is no dirt. Just dust and sand and concrete and little pebbles with cacti peeking out. At first it was sad and foreign. But eventually the breeze playing with the blinds, the roses in the garden, and the tangerine trees won me over. Yes, I think it was the tangerines that did it.

Yummilicious in the back yard...

photo credit: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1044/1152131816_a00cf48a50.jpg