the lost man chronicles
the daily chronicle
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Vanity Fare, cont.
Lately, Iíve been California dreaminí, pining to go back home, if only for a short visit to be with my family, who all still reside there. I was actually vying to sojourn west this last weekend because my sister was moving back up north to San Jose where we grew up, after having lived in LA for the last ten years or so. She was moving in with our father and was going to take over his business, so that he could finally retire and play out the rest of his days on the green, his heaven on earth. Coincidentally, yesterday and last week were my brother and sisterís birthdays as well, so there was this swell of desire to be back with my parents and siblings to mark this momentous occasion. Alas, the stars did not align, and I remained confined to my place here on the cold East Coast.
Thus, when Tom told his story, basking in the underlying glory of his successful career here, I was taken by the notion that New York wasnít such a bad place to be after all, at least for the time being. For as brass and curt and unkind The City can be, there is a certain masochistic glee to bearing and grinning it all, especially if you can rise above the grind and truly make something of this urban strife.
One of my all-time favorite quotes was written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Her words were later mysteriously, yet quite erroneously, attributed to a commencement speech that Kurt Vonnegut purportedly gave at MIT:
ďLive in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.Ē
At almost 40, I find myself fondly looking back a little more often at the first half of my life which I spent in Northern California, with its fabled perfect climate, one which I can attest is quite true. I was 24 when I parted ways with my small town of San Jose with big dreams in tow and ventured off to go to that grad school in the sky, the one that sits atop a slope in Manhattan known as Morningside Heights.
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