You were the first place I called my home, I grew up not knowing any other way of life. I grew up with clean oceans, lush forests, snowy mountains, friendly people, clean roads, small towns, orange trees, nut trees, farmers markets, fresh organic produce, chickens, cats, dogs, turkeys, rabbits, and horses. I knew the names of all my neighbors, and people were natural and beautiful just being themselves. I grew up in flip flops and I walked on your shores. That smell I still remember when I close my eyes at night, the combination of the french fry vendor, the sea, and the orange trees mix into a memory that is more than just that, it has become an entity that is so real that all these years later I can still see each day, and smell each smell as if I am living it again for the first time.
California I want you to know, you gave me the best childhood a kid could have. Although I do not remember it, I had my first birthday with you, and every birthday up until I was 30. I spent many days and nights camping in your northern forests, walking through your amazing cities, and getting lost in your vast deserts. Almost everyone I love, everyone I know, everyone I respect- all my great friends from childhood and adulthood, I met them all with you. These are just not everyday normal people, these are the people that forged a part of me, and even 30 years later I still think about my childhood best friend as if no time has passed at all. I remember getting older, and I remember mini golf, and coin op arcades, and there was this lake.
Ah yes, the lake. It was called Berryessa it was so clear once you could almost see the bottom, it was the place I learned how to water ski, it was the place of my first kiss, it was the place that provided many amazing nights with friends sitting by the fire, playing guitar, drinking beers and smoking cigarettes when we were to young to do either. I went to high school with you, a high school with no metal detectors, no real violence or sense of danger, and even though everyone said they were having sex… No one really was. We were all just kids, listening to rock and roll, and moving from crush to crush, wondering and dreaming what our lives would be like when high school was over. I got my first job with you, back when they had such things as video stores,- it was a fun job. When I was just 18 years old my life changed forever, but you helped get me over the loss of my Mother, when I couldn’t sleep, or eat, or do anything other than lay in bed and cry, you were there. I could only find comfort in walking and riding in your golden hills, and powerful mountains. I remember smelling the fresh air, feeling the warm wind pass over my skin as I would ride, pedaling my bicycle harder and harder, just trying to push my mother from my mind. In places like Pena Adobe, Big Sur and Skyline Park I found peace.
California, you were the place I formed my first band, played my first shows, and had my first real heartbreak. You were there when I bought my first car, lost my best friend, and said good by to my mother who sleeps under your earth.
But now California , I have to say goodbye to you. I have to learn how to live my life knowing that I can not go home again, that the California I knew exists in a time and is no longer a place.
California you have become tainted, you have become wicked, you have become sad, you are broken, and the people who call you home do not care about you and have no interest in helping you. You are a place where people care more about what Kim Kardashian’s sister is posting on twitter more than what their own sister is doing in real life. I hate to abandon you, but I am just 1 person and I alone can not save you. They are still washing their cars, and watering their lawns like nothing is wrong, they are still pumping thousands of gallons of water into water parks. Most of them are all so far removed from anything natural and organic, and have been for so long they don’t even feel that anything is missing. Some of them are even farther removed, and have lost any connection to what it means to be a human of the planet earth. They are all so caught up, and so busy keeping up. While more and more Generic track home neighborhoods spring up overnight. Would you like floor plan A,B,C, or D? they are all available in Beige… Repeat that 2000 times and you have an “Upcoming” neighborhood, soon to have a Target, Starbucks, and Gamestop. 2 years later no one can afford to live there, so city planners just expand inland and north even further, destroying more, and knowingly using inferior building materials and putting families into areas that could very well be out of water in 2 years.. These homes are all placed on extra wide perfectly paved roads with names like: Oak street, Shady Glen, Meadowbrook, Almond way, and Orchard ct. Yet there are no meadows, there is no shade, and their are certainly no orchards. These streets don’t have a single tree on them, or sign of life other than that of human origin or placement. No one thinks this is unusual, no one is asking where have the real trees gone.
They are still paying the highest gas prices in the country to sit in traffic breathing smog for an hour just to travel 10 miles. They still think someone else will fix you for them. For a state that was once the forefront of progress and education you are now almost last in every survey of progression and quality of life. More people are leaving you each month that are moving to you, you are a place that once lead the way as an example of what the rest of the country could be, and now you are populated by a majority that was not even born there, and have been made to be oblivious, ignorant, and have become cut off, and desensitized by their own way of life. While places like Orgeon, New Hamphire, South Dakota, and Texas thrive because the people that were born as your natives are all leaving and populating these places.
They legalized the growth of Marijuana, and by doing so they turned the northern part of you into a war zone, where legal growers get raided and illegal growers are clear cutting your forests to set up temporary growing facilities. Fueled only by greed and not even realizing the impact that a single marijuana plant can have on you. 1 plant that consumes an entire gallon of water a day, and you have been thirsty for 20 years now. You are a state that is constantly on fire, and have been in a drought for 20 years so there is no water to put you out with. since 2012 you have become so dry that inland counties are already living like squatters in their own homes, they turn the tap but nothing flows.They say in 18 to 24 months half the state will be out of water completely. The rain clouds have abandon you and the few times it does rain you are drenched in a radioactive drizzle. A drizzle that does not even absorb into your ground and is not retained. This is do to the destruction of the natural ground cover by farmers, aggressive home builders, city planners, and people who just do not want trees and bushes blocking their 5 million dollar view or your dead ocean. The water that does fall just runs off of your ground and causes mud slides, and sink holes.
Your central valley has been scorched with Liberty and Monsanto products, this is a place you are as likely to see a crop duster flying over highway 5 dropping a cloud of neurotoxins as you are a car driving on it throwing a fast food container out of the window. In the south you are home to one of the most poverty stricken and violent places in the country, while a few privileged citizens that were not even born in CA have moved in, bought up all the land and homes, and drove the housing prices so high that the average cost of a home built on your land is 3 times higher than the average of the United States, and in some places it is as high as 9 times higher. The Liberal Coastal Elite sit in their sea side mansions with stilts jabbed into your shores in complete denial that the ocean, the air, and everything around them is baking in radiation. A radioactive marine layer of fog smothers highway 1, while girls take selfies, men get abdominal implants, and people live in massive dept just to keep up with their neighbors whom they probably do not even know the names of, and likely would not recognize if they bumped in to them in the store do to the massive 6 foot privacy fences that separate the most dense population of families in the country from ever really knowing who lives next door.
Those who bathe in your ocean, the surfers, the swimmers, the divers, are now getting Sinus Cancer, they are losing their hair, they are getting skin lesions, and vision problems. Yet they remain still, inactive, and oblivious, still refusing to acknowledge something is wrong with you. How on earth anyone could believe that a massive nuclear breach into our ocean would not effect them is beyond me, but I suspect It is your way with people California, it is your appeal, it is the media that has told everyone you are the only place worth living, you are sexy and you have a way of making humans lose every last bit of their humanity, common sense, and intelligence. How easy it seems to be for your residents to believe what ever lies they are spoon fed out of Sacramento by politicians that represent what it probably the most corrupt and destructive state government in history. “Don’t worry about a thing, we are Californians! We are the best, we are invincible”. While they fill their pockets and pay for their hookers and yachts by closing schools and reusing text books that are 10 years old. Why wouldn’t you trust someone that tells you that nuclear waste won’t harm you. Even though this is the same stuff that destroys life forms at the DNA level, and you are currently 15 times higher than the safe limit of radiation on a regular basis. They tell you it’s safe, so it must be…
Your sea life is dying, sea lion cubs are beaching themselves in record numbers partly because of neurological damage, partly because of burning skin. Fish are bleeding from the eyeballs and gills, star fish are turning into piles of mush, tuna are almost extinct in your ocean, oysters have just vanished, and whales have been seen swimming with massive tumors on their heads. Air pollution is at an all time high, taxes even higher and minimum wage is still lower than the state that is just above you that has no state tax, and provides affordable housing.
You were once paradise, not long ago. Some would say that paradise has been lost, but I disagree it has not been lost, but willfully destroyed by the people who call themselves Californians. As a native Californian, it pains me, it hurts me, and it brings a tear to my eye to know this is what has happened to you, you…my home… I have lived away from you for almost 9 years now, and I have missed you everyday. I have tried to return to you, but life has a way of never going the way we plan it to. June 2015 I was supposed to return to you, it was planned, it was actually going to happen this time. I was going to come home to you California. But my home is no longer there, you are no longer the California I once loved, I don’t even know you anymore. My home is now a place in time that I can not travel to, and only exists in my mind. I hate to leave you in a letter, but I am afraid to see you in person as I fear I may not have the strength to stand on your earth and speak these words to you.
How great a sacrifice one must make to live inside your borders. Perhaps this is your ultimate revenge again those who cut down your trees, polluted your waters, and bathed your soil in chemicals.
Yet a handful remain, those who still fight for you and remember what you once were, there are still good people with you, I pray that those people will restore you and know peace and joy. But I will not cry if those who have destroyed you are themselves somehow destroyed by you.
I wish you well California, you are the great love of my life, you will always be the better part of my life – the best part of my life.