I mean: I had just written something about cotton candy.
“Kitten! Look at the sky!” I heard.
I came out onto the porch: Endless fluffs of torn clouds stretched across the darkening sky. They were the color best found on the fur of some Siberian cat: a palette of silver and all the purple shades of amethyst. In a departing kiss, the setting sun colored the bottom layer with fuchsia pink.
“And who’d thought you up?” I whispered, in response.
By the time we got into the car, the fuchsia kisses had been wiped off. And just as we drove off, an arrow of lightening shot down, about twenty meters ahead of our front bumper.
(I have landed here over a decade ago, yet I still think in metrics.)
“WOW! Did you see that?!” he said and flipped his entire body in the driver’s seat in my direction.
But I was calm, in that tired sort of way. Another day of work was behind me. So were a few more good-byes. There had been many of those, this year — a number of amicable departures and such a multitude of voices by the unsettled many, I was beginning to lose track of my losses.
So, I was leaving town on a whim, just so that I could wrap the last season of the year with whatever grace I could summon — elsewhere.
In half a kilometer, we reached the onramp.
(I have landed here over a decade ago, yet I still measure the distances I go — in metrics.)
How can the 405 be possibly packed at this hour? Well, at least, it was moving. We were moving; and I became aware of just how many people lived, dwelled, dreamt in this city.
Of how many dreamers had to survive the multitude of voices by the unsettled many — and lose track of their losses.
Of how many of us had to leave town on a whim, in search of our grace — elsewhere.
We neared the hairy maneuver of merging onto the 101: A few careful steps on the breaks and a couple of accelerations past the unknowing drivers — a couple dozen meters of betting against other people’s graces (which is always a tricky hand) — and we were free sailing.
(I know: I have landed here over decade ago, yet I still measure my growths — my flights — in metrics.)
The traffic was moving against the dark mounts, outlined in the background. On this freeway, everything seemed a lot more sensical at nighttime. So, many times I had passed the peak that revealed the view of the Valley all at once, but never had I thought of it so stunning: It spilled out in a palette of multi-colored stars dropped onto the ground beneath us.
The cars ahead looked like a trail of migrating fireflies. And the lights in the oncoming lanes were the color of French lemon meringue.
I opened my eyes: I had to have drifted off for a minute.
(It’s a good thing that time is measured with the same particles in both hemispheres. Because I had landed here over a decade ago, and I had long given-up on thinking in military time; but the rest of the adjustment was easy. Here, time — is a bit more simplified: There is just never enough of it.)
I remembered waking up like this, back at the age when I was already filled with dreams, yet most of the time dismissed by the adults as too serious of a child. I was asleep in the backseat of a cab, moving through Moscow, at nighttime, to catch an early morning flight to the East Coast of my Motha’land: Somewhere, where both the skies and the forests were the color best found on the fur of some Siberian cat. Leaning against the door, I had to have drifted off for a minute (at twenty three hundred, plus some minutes after — it was long past my bedtime).
The road was narrow, much narrower than it tended to be here, and a lot less sensical. The traffic ahead looked like a trail of migrating fireflies. And the lights in the oncoming lanes reminded me of Russian meringue cookies, with apricot jam.
I flipped my entire tiny body on the backseat toward motha: She was napping on my jacket that she’d rolled up into a travel-size pillow.
But dad heard my commotion from the front passenger seat, looked over his shoulder and whispered:
“What’s your business, little monkey?”
“P! Did you see that?!” I said.
P was calm, in that tired sort of a way. But he smiled at me, just to let me know that he, unlike others, was taking me very seriously. After all, I was a child already filled with dreams; and he had to have known that I was already meaning business.
Back on the 101, it began to feel like we were climbing.
I flipped my entire body in the front passenger seat — already feeling closer to having recuperated my grace with gratitude — and I said:
“Are we going up?”
“We are,” he answered.
He was calm, in a tired sort of way, and didn’t at all look like my father. But still, he, unlike others, was always taking me very seriously.
The road narrowed down to two lanes, and I could clearly smell the Ocean: It smelled like the East Coast of my Motha’land.
(I have landed here over a decade ago and willingly stopped measuring my life with memories. But somehow, I seemed unable to forget that one smell of home. And after a decade of living, dwelling, dreaming in SoCal, I realized that here — I was much closer to homecoming.)
At this point, having gone however many kilometers out of town, on a whim, there was barely any traffic. We were speeding, sliding, catching up to an occasional lonesome firefly ahead; until there were none at all, and the deserved single lane of the PCH began to feel a lot less sensical.
A lot like home.
There were so many ways to leave home, and there were many more ways — to land. But I knew:
Homecoming — was always better committed with some grace; even if it was found — elsewhere.