A two week holiday with my family in California was just what I needed after a long and tumultuous year of happenings and changes. Next time I won’t be away from the love of my life for this long (thankfully FaceTime exists), but all in all this holiday was seeped in love and happiness as the main reason for my trip over here was to see my brother marry the love of his life in a beautiful ceremony in the rose gardens in downtown Sacramento.
Two days after I arrived, the weather as warm as a summer day (minus the humidity) in NYC, I watched my little brother and his now wife vow to be together forever while putting the hand-picked rings they had chosen for each other on each other’s fingers. Even in late October the many rose bushes were still in bloom, and the lilac trees were full of pretty butterflies, the precious animal that is always so dear to my heart for so many reasons. Close family and friends of the couple were there with us, including some family from England that I hadn’t seen for years. There were lots of tears of happiness and sadness when thinking of those not able to join us in the celebrations (I am still going to blame the pregnancy hormones for the amount of times I have cried in the past few weeks though). Dylan is the first of us three siblings to get married and I am so happy to be there, and so happy that his unborn niece or nephew was able to somewhat participate in everything.
I have been very much more aware of the season change in California this time around, more than I have been in the past. Despite the warm weather the leaves on the trees are turning yellow and red and orange, and littering the lawns and the roads with their colours. The wind blows cooler and harder than it does normally, and the temperature has dropped from the summer temperatures that I felt on my first days here. It is still warm though, and not the freezing notes that NYC has dropped to during my time away. Ten days ago the sun was beating down on us as we walked around the pumpkin patch looking for witches and ghouls and random Chucky figures that were hiding out in the corn fields; yesterday while walking around a parking lot in downtown Sacramento that was decorated in Dia de los Muertos altars I had to wear a hoodie and grabbed a hot chocolate to warm up, waiting for darkness to roll in earlier due to the time change.
There are so many places in this area that I still haven’t seen, in all the years that my mother has lived here and all the times that I have visited. Mum and I went on a day trip to the Sacramento Delta, starting off at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksdale, driving along the Sacramento River, over some of the many bridges spanning one side to the other, right up to the semi ghost town of Isleton. We had a most delicious lunch in a small diner where a few locals lined the counter, watching television while eating their lunches, and then snapped images of the buildings that were once lived in and are now abandoned, waiting to be renovated or to fall down in disrepair. An old man in overalls stopped us on the street and told us to wait until nightfall so that we could see the bats swarm from one of the building…
That would have been pretty magical to see, but we had to move on, a few miles back down the road to another semi ghost town called Locke. A town that was built by Chinese immigrants and then abandoned when the work on the delta and bridges and railroads tapered off. More old houses, falling apart and left, waiting for someone to come back and lovingly restore them to their former glory. Houses filled with stories and memories and dreams and nightmares…
I always love to walk around Old Sacramento, no matter the weather or the season. The old wooden board sidewalks and the saloon buildings make me think of cowboys and whiskey and horses and gunfights and a world different from today’s. And then the juxtaposition of the old buildings and steam trains and steam boat on one side of the river and the glass and steel edifices on the other side. Old and new; now and then. One of the coolest costume shops I have ever been to, Evangeline’s, is in one of the old buildings and just strolling around made me think about all of the cool ways I will be able to dress my baby up for Halloween next year. This year’s Halloween was spent with good friends and their children, watching them trick or treat around the neighbourhood, laughing at their excitement every time they gathered some chocolate or candy to put in their bags. Next year I will be doing the same with my child, although I doubt he or she will remember her first Halloween for very long. It will all be for my own personal pleasure of dressing up my child like a little monster on a holiday that I really love.
And then yesterday, last but not least of the California adventures, I stopped downtown to see some of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations on J Street downtown. I love the tradition of setting up altars for departed loved ones, and there were many to look at. Lots of flowers, dressed up skeletons, pictures of people’s deceased family members and friends, sugar skulls, personal items and other memorabilia. I told my boyfriend that next year we will be making a similar altar, not just because I love the idea, but also because I think it’s important that he or she be imbued with her Mexican heritage, as well as his or her English and French heritage. It’s actually going to be loads of fun mixing everything up and celebrating all of the different holidays there are to celebrate.
And now it will soon be time to head back to NYC, prepare for a cold winter and navigating said cold winter while heavily pregnant. I am determined to enjoy this winter and the upcoming holidays as much as I can in the city, as who knows where I will be next year? Maybe enjoying another autumn in California, close to my family… I do have to say, this time round, when I was flying in to San Francisco I felt my heart lift with the feeling that I was coming home. That is usually the feeling I get when I'm flying into New York...
In order to see the full set of photos from all of the adventures above click on the link HERE, or the link under the screenshots below.
California Autumn 2013, a set on Flickr.