Sean and I were able to visit family over my quick 10-day winter holiday. We had such a wonderful time being surrounded by familiar faces, familiar food, familiar sights, and familiar creature comforts. While California is not “home” for Sean, family from his home (Vancouver, BC) were able to join his California family in my hometown (Pleasanton, CA). Now that my parents have moved away from Pleasanton, my new Bay Area home is Petaluma, where my aunt lives. So while we were both “home”, we were in Petaluma, Pleasanton, and San Francisco (where my friend/Sean’s cousin and her husband live). Oddly enough, when it came time to leave California, Sean and I spoke of going “home” to Bangkok. Home seems to be an idea that envelopes the “…where the heart is” concept, as well as where one’s bed, job, routines, and bank accounts are.
Being “home” in California made us extremely happy. Here are some things we noticed about the Bay Area:
– The food is the best in the world (but I already knew that, and this includes home-cooking by our talented family members – Ali’s pizza, Becky’s lebkuchen, Aly’s vegan colonial green beans, etc.). Favorite restaurants this trip included Cafe Zazzle, Gracias Madre, Market Bar, Luna Park, and The Hopyard.
– Bay Area drivers drive very fast. I’m used to 10-mph bumper-to-bumper Bangkok traffic, and while there are certainly reckless drivers and zipping motorcyles with helmet-less passengers, I generally feel quit safe. Sure, I wish taxis had seat belts, but I’m generally under 45 mph. Bay Area drivers, on the other hand, are scary! I felt more nervous there than I do here. (*It should be noted that Sean has a different perspective. He agrees that Californians drive quickly, but he goes in vehicles moving just as fast, but in Thailand…and that is much worse.)
– Californians move quickly in general. I get frustrated sometimes by the tendency for people in Thailand to take their sweet time, but I think I’m also coming to appreciate it. Everything about my Thai life has slowed me down – my excessive amount of prep time, public transportation, traffic, a language barrier, and so on. America overwhelmed me with its speed! Ordering really fast at a restaurant, answering lots of questions in quick succession while ordering, the aforementioned driving speed, and conversation speed…all tough to keep up with!
– The Bay Area and Bangkok both need more public transportation. We all have a lot to learn from Tokyo!
Leaving the Bay made us very sad. But upon returning “home”, we realized that we have much to be thankful for here:
– Massages: inexpensive and incredible.
– Cheap transportation
– Inexpensive travel in Southeast Asia
– Great jobs (we’re both very happy working in our respective positions)
– Nice weather (particularly between the hours of 10PM and 8AM from December through February)
– A really cool apartment in a really cool part of the city
– New friends
– Each other
I feel refreshed after having seen that California still exists and that people whom I love and miss haven’t forgotten about me (and by proxy, that the people I didn’t get a chance to see are also still my friends.) That probably sounds ridiculous or pathetic or self-deprecating, but honestly, I needed the proof, and now that I have it, I feel energized and excited about being here.
Happy New Year!