California Son


Being back in Southern California reminds me of my dad.

My dad never lived in Southern California, but like some many of his generation, it – and the whole Golden State, really – represented a kind of freedom that the sons and daughters of the ’60s sought to capture. San Francisco may have been the scene of the Summer of Love, but LA is the western terminus of Route 66, and that was roughly the route my dad chose to follow on his ride out here in 2008. Home of the Byrds, of the Laurel Canyon sound and the burial place of Gram Parsons, there’s something about Southern California that my dad always liked. He liked talking to me about it and I think he secretly liked that I lived here for 10 years.

But for me, it’s a mixed bag. It’s very familiar, but it’s no longer where I live – so, while I recognize all the people and places, there’s no place here that I can currently call my own. More than that, this is where I lived when I learned my dad was sick, where I was when we were momentarily elated that he had gone into remission and, just last year, the place we left to be closer for what turned out to be the last eight months of his life.

Looking back a year later at the place where I met my wife and built a life is a bittersweet reminder of the triumphs and tragedies of this past year. Los Angeles is filled with faces and places I love, but it’s really hard knowing that, as I stand here near where Route 66 ends, I can’t pick up my phone and tell my dad what the California sunset looks like tonight.

And while I may have flown here this time, when I come back, it’ll be by bike. I promise, Dad.

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