One of the highlights of this winter break was celebrating the holidays with my people out here on the West Coast.
Usually, I long for home in Philadelphia around the Christmas season. Up until my late 20s/early 30s I had never missed a Christmas in Philadelphia. My grandmother was alive and there were a gazillion traditions to uphold, generally involving a food feast, prayers, and a great music. Christmas is also my cousin, Christina’s birthday, there was always a birthday celebration involved. At her house, there was also a movie marathon of some sort, generally action movies, with salsa music in the background, lots of coquito, cake, and ice cream.
The last two years I didn’t go home because I was already traveling overseas in January, but last year I think I only left the house to walk the dog. This year I went out to dinner/holiday celebrations 3 times and even had friends over for dinner a few nights ago. That’s downright gregarious for me.
What especially stands out from that is that my intention over several years of finding a home here has actually been met. Of course, I always claim and miss Philadelphia, but my home has truly become Berkeley and the Bay Area. It’s not just about having a house here, which is significant. It’s about being able to have a Solidarity Sunday gathering at the house and have friends come over to talk about and work around political issues. It’s about going to my first Hanukkah celebration/potluck, having great conversations, and eating a LOT of fudge. It’s about sharing pozole at one house and shrimp and lobster risotto at another, and at both places, feeling at ease in the family, with kids playing and running around. It’s about reading a Spanish children’s book with the Vargas girls and seeing little C-man perform songs from his Christmas concert on his ukulele. It’s about sharing a day at the museum with the Koide family before having dinner together at our house (with our crazy dog barking every other minute and getting no attention). It’s about my little goddaughter reading the books on women leaders and saying, “Women are powerful!” and that she loved me when she got those books (because I’m the Tía who gives books for Christmas). It’s about finding a place and family here as much as I know my place and family in Philadelphia and in Western PA.
Though Matteo and I talk about picking up and trying a new place, Berlin or someplace in Liguria, in the future, we both know how good the Bay Area has been to us, how much we love our people here, how fortunate we are in our little house with our little dog. Might stay for another 10 or 20 years.
#50of52, #52essays2017, #twt,