Monday, August 16, 2004

Last Issue: Full Circle

My last week or so in California was kind of a blur: lots of last-minute events, trying to spend much time as possible with people who will be going to the four corners of the earth once we stop working, etc. The last days were really an emotional rollercoaster for me: missing the people I spent all summer getting to know, and looking forward to going home and seeing my friends there.

On our last night as summers, the firm gave us a bunch of money and told us to go forth and spend it (nice, eh?) We ended up at some dive bar drinking Happy Hour specials, playing shuffleboard (!!) and the jukebox. After the smoke cleared, we still had too much money left - so we loaded up at the grocery store and settled in for a night of "The Big Lebowski" - complete with White Russians (if you've seen the movie, you know that is the Dude's drink of choice.) Big Lebowski night was fun for its spontaneity, and because it let me play one of my favorite parts - observer. Sitting back and watching people and how they interact, I realized the things I enjoy about each summer. Aaron is one of the few people I've met who "gets" my sense of humor. Whenever something strikes me as funny, I look at him, and he's already laughing and nodding. Kevin is by far the goofiest electrical engineer ever - a great combo! Stephanie is by turns naive and cynical. Maybe people are interesting because of their paradoxes (paradoci?)

My excitement about going home sky-rocketed as my last day wound down. I hit some of my favorite places in Palo Alto that night, including my current favorite restaurant, Cafe Niebaum-Coppola, and a great wine bar (Lavanda) where I was able to use one of my two Dutch phrases on the bartender. I think my favorite times with friends are when you can just wander and let the evening take you where it will. Unfortunately, with law school, I always feel like I "should" be doing something.

I spent Saturday "packing", and by packing, I mean - packing for 10 minutes, and then having to sit down for a while. The whole time, I felt like I could either burst into tears, or start jumping and down. I think it's called being "manic." I spent my last night in California at Pat's house - which is where I stayed my first night out here as well. As always, it was good to spend time with Pat. She, like no other, can read my moods from my face, from my tone of voice, etc. When I dropped off my rental car, I realized that I had no keys - very, very weird, and oddly, freeing. Kevin, who graciously gave me a ride, surmised - no keys equals no responsibilities, at least for a little while.

Flying out to SF, I flew from National (I'll never call it Reagan!) to Chicago, and on to SF. At National, across the terminal, I saw someone standing with his back to me, and I thought "that guys stands like Seth Weaver." Yeah, it was Seth Weaver. As it turns out we were on the same flight, he said hi to my mom (as usual, I was talking to my mom on my cell.) He was on his way out to Honolulu (where he worked for the summer.) Kinda funny, kinda coincidental, no biggie. On the way back, I flew the same route. Near the end of the flight from Chicago, a guy at the front of the plane stood up with his back to me, and I thought "Hey....that's Seth Weaver!" I caught up to him in the baggage claim - and it was him!! Mom came in to get me, and was able to meet him. I introduced him as "the guy you talked to on my cell when I was flying out to SF", which I knew was a lost cause since Mom can't recognize people that have lived on her street for the last 15 years.

Being home has been great. Some things never change - my father annoyed me in the first 15 minutes, during the drive home from the airport. My dad's conversational style is more like being deposed: "How many lawyers are at the firm? In total? At your office? What are the main practice areas? How may lawyers in each area?" etc. etc. At this point, I had been traveling all day, and I was very, very sleep-deprived.

In case you're wondering, Gia is as cute, if not cuter, than when I last saw her. She's still an ace at hide-and-seek, and fetch. I was too tired to bring her home from Mom and Dad's, so she's being doted on for a few more days. Driving my car (the Sinatra) was awesome! During the summer, I noticed that if I didn't drive the Aveo for a few days, when I got behind the wheel again, I would start off driving it like it was the Sinatra - expecting the same brake tension, etc. It's amazing how long your auto-pilot memory is: I drove home really without thinking. As usual, I was soaking in the lushness - Virginia is much greener than California. It's what I missed most when I was in Canada - the feeling that given half a chance, the foliage on the sides of the road would reclaim it. The night sounds here are also much louder than in CA. When I left, it was the beginning of cicada season, with it's odd extraterrestrial-landing, thrumming, sound, but the night is still cacophonous.

Getting reacquainted with my house was reassuring - everything is right where I left it, "interesting" - why did I leave a pair of scissors in the freezer???, and exploratory - what was I listening to right before I left? (As it turns out, Tom Petty.) I must say, there's nothing like showering in YOUR shower, and sleeping on YOUR purple couch (I didn't quite make it to bed.)
Being at home, and being back at school is an odd experience - in some ways, it feels like I never left, but I am a very different person. Maybe what Thomas Wolfe meant by "you can't go home again" is that when you do, it's not home that has changed, but you. As you know, this is my last travelogue, since I'm finally home. Normal email communications will now resume - so email me already!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Issue 10: Tapas

Our cooking class on Thursday took place at a partner’s house in the hills of Redwood City. And they’re not kidding when they call them hills. My ride was a little aggressive on the turns, and I was white-knuckled in the back seat. The organizers, a catering company that specializes in team-building, decided we would have a tapas party. (Cue the laughter about what that sounds like.) We all grabbed a glass of wine and then divided into groups. I was on the angel-food and strawberry brochettes (drizzled with chocolate ganache and served with crème fraiche.) Other groups made clams with pancetta, lamb samosas, coconut-crusted scallops, bruschetta, and spicy cumin dip. Very, very yummy. I miss cooking and entertaining. Yet another casualty of law school. I have a growing list of things I enjoy that I’m hoping to get back into once I have more time (ha ha.)

My family has friends out here from my dad’s days at Stanford. I went to Uncle Merritt and Auntie Anka’s house for a barbecue. (Note: not my actual aunt and uncle – ‘Indian’ aunt and uncle, meaning not related to me – but must use the title as a form of respect. I’ve been calling them that my whole life. Uncle Merritt’s nephew was there, and he, of course, didn’t use the title.) It’s interesting to talk with people who have a totally different perspective on your parents. My dad’s grad school friends make fun of his world view – it makes me feel a little better, i.e. that I’m not the only person who thinks he is crazy. I even feel like I’m getting to the point where I can find him amusing.

Uncle Merritt’s kids, Ricky and Johnny, are identical twins. I spent the evening chanting "Ricky – Red" in my head to keep them straight. (Ricky was wearing a red shirt.) Uncle David and Uncle Michael came – also identical twins. "Ricky – Red, David- Yellow." I started cracking up when I remembered that Uncle Merritt is a twin as well – his twin sister lives in Springfield, VA. So, one barbecue, 2.5 sets of twins.

The way I view old friends is largely shaped by an old photograph of my parents at their friends’, the Akiyamas’, wedding. We’re still friends with the family – I know their kids Tosh and Mas (in fact, they ended up coming to my high school.) I found that photograph while I was in high school, and I thought it was just amazing. It’s why I make such an effort to go to friends’ weddings, no matter how far. I want their kids to know me. It’s the same thing I always say – something about the friends you made at a certain critical period makes them the ones you follow through life.

My time in California is winding down, only two more weeks to go. On the one hand, I’m definitely looking forward to coming home, sleeping in my own bed, seeing my friends, and my precious Gia. To a lesser extent, I’m also excited about starting my last year of law school. I deal with the ends of things so badly… doesn’t matter how long I see it coming, doesn’t matter how excited I might be about what’s coming up. I had a similar kind of sulking fit (as many of you know) before coming out here. I’ve had mini-sulks already this summer - when a few summer associates dropped off because they were splitting their summer.