The original text of this particular card was meant to be written on the back of a postcard I bought in Huntington Beach. It’s a lovely little vintage piece with deep blue and all the sunniness that nostalgic California should sing about!
With my writing, California is definitely a big part of my identity. All the ideals of this “21st Century Land,” as I like to think of the West Coast, really sings to me; there is just such a widespread misconception that California is a Neverland, an Eden or the crack in the glass ceiling. Heading out West means starting new and making your dreams come true. It’s a calming effect to being out here as well, as San Franciscan transplants I’ve heard talk of their relocation as refreshing. But is this place really as refreshing as outsiders make it to be?
Of course not. I live here– born and raised and more than aware of the downsides to being in this state. First off, it’s expensive being out here. And there is a sense of snobbish entitlement borne from the awes and resentment that living in California creates for people outside of here. But California is for the most part no separate place from the global and political issues that claim the rest of the nation– and living in the center of a changing urban scene as San Francisco’s makes all too familiar with issues like the homeless and marginalized ethnic groups with deep roots to the city. But I’m an idealist. Just because reality kicks in doesn’t mean change can happen, that luck may find its way around.
And that’s where “Golden State of Mind” comes from. The disillusionment of the American Dream as set in place by the idealistic offerings of California is always fixated on my mind and makes for a stark contrast of inspiration from such a postcard. But taking down the California image is not my agenda with writing. In fact, it’s my motivation to seek change or discover the hope in whatever struggles I face while living out here. People do get that about California. That being that there is wonder, there is beauty, and there is the dream– dreams live on if you keep thinking about them, simple as that.
This card always recalls a brief conversation I had with a friend who lived in California for two years after graduating from the University of Oregon and has since moved back to Portland. They left Oregon in the first place because it was necessary to get outside their norm to truly see who they are. In coming to California, they discovered that being back in Oregon made sense as the way of living in California was unbecoming. People weren’t nice. And maybe I don’t know better because I’ve pretty much been here my whole life. But in the traveling I did this past year, I could really see what they meant. People have no expectations elsewhere in America. They’re humble and genuinely warm and always in awe when I said I came from California. It’s a bit disappointing to see that the hospitality that does arise from here is out of a sense of distorted duty to the tired illusion, to keep on proving to outsiders that inside here the grass is really greener. In stepping out from the state I saw how insane it is to be living here. The perfect, cool life is in fact a hot mess.
But in my case, it is home.
Complete with the hand drawn and watercolored orange fruit and blossoms, I hope these words open the door to some sort of actualization about this place. California isn’t any of those things the books and movies make it out to be– and then again it is. You can’t just arrive here and expect the troubles to go away. Like any person working for a goal, making dreams come true, such fancies aren’t without putting in your own share of hardships and muscle. Let the fruit of your labors bloom golden and full because in coming to the Golden State, you’ve earned it. You’ve earned yourself this imperfect paradise.
See the printed card now at my shop here, and have yourself a little bit of California!