I've done lists before; this year, let's go on a journey. I'm going to take you on a trip through the America of my mind. Where we'll begin and end I don't really know, and what we meet along the way will be an adventure.
California. The place everyone wants to visit, some to live in. That's where I started, in the heart of it all. The Hollywood sign was just something that sat on the mountain that I saw all the time. Griffith Observatory, the Natural History Museum, the Arboretum, the Huntington Library, the beach--they were all there within my grasp. Oh, yes, and Disneyland. Disneyland was born into my blood.
From California the great to Alaska the magnificent, where I played in the snow and a treehouse built high up. Where my family went fishing and I threw my pole into the water because I was too young to quite understand how fishing worked. Where everything was different, where I laughed because it couldn't be bedtime yet because the sun was still out.
More California--where I spent afternoons watching I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show--but also my first trip to Arizona. It was new. It was hot and devoid of the cities I was used to--but it had new things. Exciting things. I saw the Grand Canyon. I visited chickens. I watched the stars and traced the horizon across the mountains. And then the summer trips here stopped and we came here to live. After living in an apartment, we had a yard again. Open space to play in. I read Little House on the Prairie and watched the show, too.
The Red Rocks of Sedona are beautiful and the historic downtown Prescott a lovely place for a cool afternoon. The Painted Desert spoke always to me, from when I first heard its name in fourth grade. When we finally made the drive years later, I fell in love with the soft land, layers of colorful dirt forming hills that no picture can capture. Google Image the Painted Desert and you will not see it: it is too beautiful to exist in a photograph.
I discovered Get Smart and I Dream of Jeannie, listened to Blondfire and Flyleaf, and whiled away the evenings with Once Upon a Time. I vacationed in New Mexico and breathed in the cooler, still warm air. Drifted across the wide lands of colorful earth and soft plants, visiting museums and old homes, places where people had lived who loved this land. Acoma lived up to its name of Sky City, built up high to look out upon the most gorgeous land. I always want to go back to Santa Fe because it feels familiar and home-like.
I tasted, as well. American chocolate has a bad reputation, but that is changing. Amano makes some of the best I've ever tasted--their Montanya bar may be my favorite ever. Everything is atmospheric, artistic, pure, and beautiful. I found Valerie Confections and felt fancy with Rose Petal Petits Fours. I ate at House of Tricks by ASU again and again, and then I finally went to Pizzeria Bianco and then went two more times.
I thought more and more of The Wizard of Oz, and I imprinted my own meaning on the green light in The Great Gatsby. I looked at New York and Texas and everywhere else from afar, places that I might enjoy visiting--but that I did not need to visit. There is much to see and do--but not all of that is far away. So much already I have found to delight in. My America is different from your America, colored by the years of our individual lives. But together, our separate experiences and joys comes together and create our America. Let's live it richly, shall we?