I feel really terrible admitting that you weren’t love at first sight. On a late August day in 2006, my little Civic loaded with belongings, I drove past your huge water tower off Highway 5. I was hot, tired and annoyed at our long day of travel so your “Sacramento: City of Trees” water tower didn’t exactly feel inviting. I groaned out loud.
City of trees? That’s all they have to boast of? Trees?
I didn’t exactly choose you, Sacramento. My new husband had applied to law schools all over the country and got into two: UC Davis and McGeorge. It seemed obvious we were supposed to be in Sacramento, so I put on a happy face and helped pack our big Penske truck. I could make Sacramento work until he graduated, but then we’d be on to bigger and better things. Little did I know you had plans to romance me.
During my first fall here, your chill surprised me so much that I didn’t particularly enjoy your changing colors. I was also unemployed, which didn’t help my attitude. The only thing I had on my calendar for weeks was a 6:30am running date at McKinley Park with Sharon. She’d moved to Sacramento a year before and was still deciding whether she liked you or not. We spent a lot of miles getting to know one another better and discussing our jobs, or lack thereof. The first thing you gave me was a real, true friend.
That fall, as my love for running developed, I also rediscovered writing. I took an extension class at UC Davis and realized that even though I hadn’t a clue of what to do from 8am to 5pm each day, I knew I could put words on paper.
There are a lot of other things I discovered as the months and years flew by in this town. I discovered that like me, you were floundering a bit. We both wanted so badly to grow up but we weren’t quite sure how to make it happen. I hopped between a few jobs, eventually landing at 3fold Communications where I fell in love with you in a new way. There were big, amazing, fun things happening within your streets and buildings from nonprofits like River City Food Bank to places like the B Street Theatre. What a joy to watch you become more than San Francisco’s step-sister or Tahoe’s layover. While I was becoming a grown-up too, you were too.
In the summer I’ll think about all the days we floated the American River listening to country music, and the hot nights at the drive-in. I will miss Gunther’s ice cream dripping down my hands and the paella at Aioli Bodega Espanol. And every July 17 I will think about that amazing glass of wine from Ella which I’m convinced sent me into labor with Anna.
In the fall I will remember the bright yellow leaves on that perfect McKinley Park tree. You know…the one right at H and 33rd streets? I understand now why you’re the city of trees, and I love you for boasting of the beauty few Californians get to witness each November.
In the winter I won’t particularly miss the mornings I had to scrape ice off my car windshield, but I will be oddly sad to not bundle up for my 6am runs. I can guarantee I will think of your scones and Devonshire cream from Fox & Goose when the weather gets cold, and I’ll crave a sipping cupping of hot chocolate from Ginger Elizabeth.
In the spring months I’ll miss the way all our neighbors start emerging to tackle their yards again, and the way midtown livens up with more bikers and joggers. Each May, just before the weather turns hot, I will think about the day Jonathan finished chemo, and I’ll be thankful all over for the hardworking nurses at Kaiser on Morse.
Sacramento, I’ve run your trails, and biked your city streets, and walked my stroller around your quaint neighborhoods. I have swam in your rivers and meandered through your rose gardens and ooohed and ahhed every time I see the Capital building lit up at night.
But while there are so many restaurants and places I will miss in our new home, the thing I will miss the most are the people…from our neighbors on 13th Avenue to our Westmont friends…to my bible study girls to Jonathan’s basketball guys…to the 3fold gang and the wonderful people at Restoration Life and First Covenant Churches…and all my Twitter friends and my Redbud writers. Sacramento, you grow good people and my life is better and richer because of them.
Today I’ll drive past your big water tower again, Jonathan following me in a huge moving van. This time, however, there will be two babies in the back seat of my car who will forever know Sacramento as their birthplace.
It’s spring, and your beautiful trees are bursting forth with new life just as ours are starting again in a new home.
We will miss you.