Usually when people ask me where I’m from, I tell them: I’m from all over. Truth is, the longest I’ve spent living in one place was five consecutive years in St.Louis. I also spent five years in San Diego, but in the middle there is spliced a year in Paris, which sort of upsets the continuity A LOT.

I’ve often wondered what it’s like living in the same place for ten, twenty years. For me, moving superimposes some semblance of order and direction to my life.

But it seems that if you lived in the same place for many many years, the memories associated with certain places would get saturated.

San Diego has been a strange point of juxtaposition for me. This is the place where I was physically while still mentally in St.Louis: a place of suffocating solitude marked by the sticky odor of eucalyptus oil. This is where I went to college, still not fully present. The same place where I experienced a short period of genuine happiness and present-ness before moving to Paris. This is the place I returned to, shell-shocked after my Parisian adventures, the place where I gave birth to my children, and where I spent a year living an adult life with husband and progeny. All the same place, geographically, but emotionally – several completely different worlds.

So when I visit, it is a most bizarre experience. As if I dip into each of those worlds, shiver, and clamber back out onto the banks that are my parents’ home (mine too), their sun-bathed garden, orange trees, warm patio, slow days and restful nights.

Memories are like snapshots. If you take one out and look at it often, you expose it to light and alter it. With every look, it grows more and more pale. You cannot help but change a memory if you recall it often. This is what happens in San Diego – I have been “back” so many times over the several years that I haven’t lived here, that everything’s muddled now. I have seen and hung out with the people I “left behind”. The memories come in waves of feeling, and it’s not here nor there – not quite a well-preserved, solid memory, neither really a continuity of yesteryear blending seamlessly into now.

But if you don’t recall a memory, ever, it is preserved in all its fullness the way a photograph would if you never looked at it. Like, if I go to the Math Department building in Muir College of UCSD, I know that I will experience some mad nostalgia. Even thinking about it makes me tingle inside (because I haven’t been there or thought of it since then until now). It’s like I’m back there , being the Anya of 2002, which in some ways is a very different person. I can smell the damp stairwells, hear the echo of my voice, feel the excitement of meeting a certain special….well, no matter. Powerful things, these memories.

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Memories aside, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and much happiness, stellar adventures, and new discoveries in the upcoming year!

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