California's full of whiskey, women and gold

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One of the most fascinating parts of moving home is seeing everyone else who has recently come back. We somehow all reached the place in our lives where being back in our one horse town seems comfortable right at the exact same time. Everyone has tried their hand at living in cities or other states and decided that there's no place like home. No matter how much we might think we're drawn to city life, going out, denying that we enjoy the middle of nowhere, we all just want to sit around a campfire, canoe down the river or lie in a truck bed looking up at the stars. Oh, and country music, don't forget that we all can belt the lyrics to "Friends in Low Places" or "Rodeo" like our lives depend on it. Even me with my skinny jeans, severe a-line hair cut and indie band tees. And that guy with the ironic mustache? He's singing louder than anyone.

But really, who can blame us? We grew up in one of the most beautiful fucking places on earth. Yeah, there's a certain amount of regionalism involved here but remember, I've gone backpacking to remote waterfalls in bamboo forests in Thailand, spent time in the Himalayan foothills, gotten sunburned as all hell lazing by the mediterranean in Turkey. I've seen Hagia Sofia and the Taj Mahal. It's taken living in other places and traveling around the world, hardly spending time out in this part of the county for five years, to finally learn to appreciate the splendor of the Northern California countryside (and of course realize that I need to date the boy next door). Until I have the descriptive skills of John Steinbeck, this is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Yeah, that's right, we're watching the sunset over the ocean from one of our friend's parent's property. Seriously, how lucky are we to live here? 

The weirdest part is how easy it is to strike up conversations with people I haven't seen in the past 5 to 9 years (I went to high school out of district so some people I hadn't seen since my freshman year) that I've known since the third grade. I can chat for hours with pretty much everyone even after the basic catching up. And I actually really care about what has happened in these peoples' lives and still feel some sort of closeness and bond with them. It's weird to fall into the old roles and groups again. To discover who has reconnected with whom. It's weird to be thought of as "the smart one" again. It's something I've tried to escape, or cover up for a long while now. To these people, to my old friends, I'm still Alana S-G, the person for whom every subject was effortless, teacher's pet, destined for a prestigious out of state school, the outspoken, intimidating one that all the boys had crushes on. In their mind I'm smiling and giddy and personable. Sure, I've always been sarcastic as all get out, but not bitter, not disillusioned. Not the snob I am now. And when I'm around them, I can be that person again. I lose my self conscious awkwardness and shyness people mistake for aloofness. I stop trying to cover my love for academia. My music, food and fashion snobbery hangout on the sidelines of my personality instead of taking over the entire field. I relax and have fun. There's no pressure. There's some innate common bond.

Small town camaraderie, cliched, but maybe true?

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