The dark sky rolled in earlier than it has any day since I’ve been in DC. It started to rain, first lightly, then with force. For those outside without protection the weather was unforgiving. Luckily, I was not one of them. I had made it to the metro station as soon as the first drizzles began. I was leaving the museum where I spent my morning among dinosaur bones, stuffed wild animals, and diamonds that have been worn by corrupt royalty throughout the ages.
I came back to my apartmet to escape the weather, and also because I had class. At the break I decided not to go back to class because my bed was too appealing. I got under the blankets, put on the heater, and opened the book I’ve been struggling to get halfway through in, due to a lack of time.
As the light in the sky slowly disappeared without the clock even reaching 5 pm I was struck by a wave of homesickness. For Santa Cruz. It was a combination of things that all worked as one to transport me back to a certain day in Santa Cruz, about a year and a half ago….
It was my first weekend in the Kresge apartments, the last weekend of Fall quarter, after moving out of my Porter apartment. School had already gotten out and campus was dead except for a group of us, who had decided to stay through the weekend. It was one of the stormiest and darkest nights that stick in my mind, for what reasons I’m not sure. I think it could have been a combination of him being there, of me being in my new apartment, of the conversation that I overheard between two people that will also always remain a page in my book of memory.
The specific people I remember being there was my brother and his girlfriend of the time, her sister, and He and I. My brother and his girlfriend had chosen this night to go exploring with Miss Molly, a date in the deserted campus that had transformed itself into a wet forest. As soon as school got out it always seemed as if the wild took back our campus. Left in the apartment was her sister, me and Him. We were listening to music, but not too loud, since technically we werent supposed to be on campus. I was making a soup for all of us with a bunch of produce I “borrowed” from the campus gardens. The smell of garlic and basil claimed my apartment as its own, and as I stood at the table and chopped vegetables, I listened to the conversation her sister and He had. First she commented on what a good host I was. He said I was Miss. Dalloway. I remeber her talking about what she imagined I’d be like in ten years, twenty. Entertaining all my friends, having them over for dinner, having an elegant, loose- handed control of the evening’s social setting.
Then I remember her saying what a good mother I’d make. I don’t know why conversation turned that way, but it did. At the time I was flattered by the thought of one day being an amazing parent. One day raising children, and providing them with everything they would ever want. I was in love with the thought of having something that would be my own. Mine to watch grow up. Mine to kiss goodnight. Mine to help discover the world….
Then they began talking about their own plans for the future, and how neither of them wanted kids. I had heard him say this a few times before, but the more I heard it and the more I fell in love with him, the more it bothered me. Not because I wanted to marry him and have kids immediatly, but because what we wanted out of life conflicted. She talked about how the dreams and goals she had would conflict with having children. That she was too selfish to be able to give up everything she wanted out of life. All the fantasies of her future were not possible if children came into the picture. I didn’t judge her, and I knew that was more or less how he felt.
I let the feelings of disappointment of how he and I differed go, and somewhat drifted back out of their conversation. I remember replacing that feeling with the contentment of the moment. Here I was, in a redwood forest, trapped in my own apartment with the person I loved, with good company- my brother and my best friend, his new girlfriend. It was the beginning of a new time in my life, and no matter how the future would one day be, this night was one that I would always appreciate.
That was the end of Fall quarter two years ago. Fall quarter has just begun and I’m on the other side of the country. He and I are no longer Us, my brother and his girlfriend are no longer them, and I no longer have the same goals and dreams I did when I began college. It took the past year of really concentrating on myself and what I want as a career and in life to realize that I am just as selfish as she had described herself. I want to travel, explore…. maintain an element of freedom that children just— don’t allow. At 23 I can sit here at my desk in my apartment, in downtown metropolitan DC, killing time before I go out and enjoy my social night life, after having the whole day to myself to do whatever I wanted. I love this at 23, and I can’t imagine giving up this life style. As I age I will only gain more independence. My career with provide me with the money I want to see the places I can only visit in pictures as of now. I won’t have to use google maps street view to imagine what it’s like to live in Japan. My pattern of thought has changed alot over two years…
But still. There was something about today that took me back to that night in Santa Cruz. The rain on the window, the smells in my apartment, the longing for redwoods as opposed to looking outside and seeing high rises. This evening I desperately wanted that night back. I wanted things to return to the way they once were. I missed the way the rain falls through the redwoods, fighting its way to the forest floor. The way you hear it hit all the branches on the way down. The smell of the freshly bathed forest. The way the light reflects on the wet roads that weave through campus. The way the bridges vibrate under your body as you walk across them. The way campus belongs to only you once schools out. The lampposts that have been given faces with black tape, that seem to stand alone on rainy nights, glowing for god knows who. I miss that giant glass window that served as a wall in my new apartment. The hideous curtains that stretched from floor to ceiling. The way my friends would randomly surpise me and knock on my window and opposed to just using the front door. So much has changed.
Dear Santa Cruz, I really miss you.
My advice for anyone whose reading this—
Don’t long for something that no longer exists. That was the past. I will never have that night back. The closest I will come with be the deja vu I experienced today. Enjoy and appreciate where you are at the very moment you are there. Life is constantly changing faster than you probably would like it it. Our five senses are the most important parts of memory.
Because two years later, the only way to revisit a time I loved is through memory. Flipping through the pages of my mind — The way the apartment smelled, the way a glimpse of his smile could put one on my face, the feeling of the cold chopped vegetables beneath my fingers, the sound of my brother and his girlfriend laughing as they watched planet earth and the drug kicked in, and the taste of the hot apple cider and whiskey we were drinking.