Sunday, May 25, 2008

City of Orange Lights

My family and I enjoyed a visit back to our home of four years, the San Francisco Bay Area (home of seven years for my husband). I have never been so attached to a piece of earth. I tried throughout my visit not to pause and think for too long, or else I might have gotten all teary and depressed.

The brisk air, the people, all things healthy, hippie, and green, the looming skylines of the green Santa Cruz mountains to the West and the San Jose mountains to the east, cradling the Silicon Valley and all of the rolling foothills in between. The wonderful, dear group of sisters whose friendships insha’allah will continue for the rest of our lives. Watching our children growing and playing—with occasional hair-pulling—and loving each other. The rugged, breathtaking Pacific coast that, for four years, I visited whenever I wished. Driving down highway 17 again, the 45-minute windy, scenic mountain route to Santa Cruz I drove for every single one of my prenatal appointments. I think it was California that made me love America.

The night we arrived I noticed the yellow-orange street lights illuminating the empty, midnight streets. I knew about them before, but the orangeness really stood out after having been away for a while. They radiated miles out from the highway into every neighborhood and shopping plaza. Back in the eighties, San Jose switched all of their street lights to a low-energy alternative, largely to minimize interference with the Lick Observatory high up in the surrounding mountains. That’s San Jose; putting up with sickly orange lights in order to be able to see the stars.

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