So, I NEVER thought I'd be grateful to live in Sacramento.
I grew up here, in the neverland between "Sacramento" and something called "Carmichael," but honestly, I couldn't see any difference: they both seemed like nowhere to me. And I couldn't wait to get out.
So, I did. I've lived, for periods of a few months usually, in London, in San Francisco, in New York, and on the road for six-month long stretches that took me all over Europe, to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Brazil, Argentina...all along thinking that I would find some place that I would feel would be the right place for me, someplace to call home...with pride.
Sacramento never seemed like a possibility. Where was the pride in that?
But during all those years, I was doing other things, things I didn't think much of: I was building relationships, buying and remodeling a house or two, falling in and out of love, working at writing, loving and learning music, exploring the ocean and mountains and deserts around me, taking care of (and being taken care of by) the people who matter to me. And while I was doing all that, despite my best - or at least most fervent - intentions, I was doing something I intended NOT to do: I was making a life in Sacramento. Dumb ol' Sacto.
And it is a GOOD life. It's good in large part - almost entirely, really - because of the people in my life who I love and who love me, who are too many to name, and who I am inadequate to the task of praising sufficiently; they know who they are.
But it's also, I have to admit, this town: Though I grew up loathing it, I have grown to love the place. There are a lot of things it's not, as any one of us can point out; but even the things it's not have made me a better person, because it has forced me to make my own excitement, my own entertainment, my own social whirl. And now, it gives me surprises nearly every day, which is what prompted this blog. I hope that you are finding new surprises here yourself, things where you think, "Gee, I didn't know THAT was happening here."
And I love this, above all: That any time I walk out of my house, day or night, and head out on the furry bike, I WILL run into someone I know. I mean, it ALWAYS happens, and I'm always happy to see them, and them, me. And we will talk, and I'll learn something new, and more than that, we'll reinforce a connection that is a year, a decade or even 20- or 30-years-old. Or even just a week old.
We live in a place where those week-old connections CAN turn into 20-year-connections, and that is NOT something that you are nearly as likely to find in New York or (god knows) San Francisco. It's possible, but people in those cities are often rushing to the next exciting thing, or next exciting person or career opportunity, and they too often leave people behind. We don't do that here; our careers matter, but our connections matter more.
It's a way of being grounded that I haven't seen in the cities of my dreams, and I'm glad that I was smart enough to realize it before it was too late.
I recorded a song on my album by a songwriter named Adam Sultan. The chorus goes, "Thanksgiving for every wrong move/That made it right." That, I have found, is how life often works. In this case, my "wrong move" was not striving harder to become a big-city writer or songwriter or whatever I might have been had I "successfully" stayed away from my hometown and "made it." And for that, I give thanks today, and every day, for having landed in the modest, "boring" town that is just about perfect for me. Even without the job that seemed to define me for 25 years, I can say wholeheartedly that I feel that I have "made it" beyond my wildest dreams.
What I have made is a life I love. And you just can't get more successful than that.
Happy Thanksgiving, Sacramento.