Note unrelated to this post:  MacBook, you are ON NOTICE.  When I unplugged you from power source to start typing this post, you were fully charged.  Twenty-three minutes later, you alerted me that I was now running on reserve battery power.  Unacceptable.  To the genius bar for you, young man.

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Over the weekend we took a whirlwind trip to California, to go to Monterey for the wedding of my college roommate.

One of the most frustrating things about visiting Northern California with John is that it is literally impossible for us to see all of the people we love out there in the course of one weekend.  This is doubly true when we have to drive down to Monterey for an event, since Monterey is technically about 90 miles from where our friends live.

The wedding was beautiful, and my friend was so happy and radiant that it was impossible not to feel privileged to be a part of her day.  And we got to see some of John’s best friends, including one who is a few days away from a tremendous accomplishment, after many years of hard work, so it was great to spend time with him to celebrate.  Still, though, when we got on the plane to come home I couldn’t help but feel a little wistful about all the people I didn’t see.

What I didn’t feel wistful about, surprisingly, was leaving Northern California.  This was sort of unexpected.  You see, for years, whenever I got on a plane to leave California, I felt sad – California felt like home to me, and everywhere else was just a place where I was temporarily until I got to return home.

But on this trip, for the first time, I found myself not wishing that I lived in San Francisco.  Sure, I still love it, and I still spent much of the trip lobbying John to go to my favorite places to eat for food we can’t get back in Chicago.  But there was no part of me that wished we lived there.

There were a lot of things it turns out I don’t miss.  Talking to our friends who live in an adorable one-bedroom and discovering they pay more in rent than we pay in a mortgage?  I don’t miss that.  Driving on the 101 in traffic?  I don’t miss that.  Spending hours talking about the rarified world of Silicon Valley technology, where everyone knows the name of the founder of the Next Big Startup, when I don’t work in tech and never will?  I don’t particularly miss that.

(Our lovely friends do, in fact, work in tech, and it’s fun to hear them talk about their work, but the constant hum from everyone around you of “this startup just got this guy and that one just got that guy and this one just got X dollars of funding and that one just lost is next round of angel funding” makes my eyes start to glaze over.)

Yesterday morning, as we were packing to leave, the California State Supreme Court delivered its ruling upholding Prop 8.  As we drove to the airport, we passed a protest on the corner- people holding signs, some dressed in wedding gowns, objecting to the decision and pledging to continue the fight for equal rights. Dozens of cars (including ours) honked in solidarity and support as they drove by.

I felt a rush of affection for California’s culture of protests and the progressive tendencies of the neighborhoods where I’ve lived.  But I also was reminded of how broken California is, what a joke it is to have a state constitution that requires a 2/3 majority to pass a budget, but only a simple majority popular vote to take away rights from a minority group, and how bad the state is at addressing the needs of its poor families.

I don’t pretend that Illinois has this stuff figured out- god knows we don’t.  But these days, instead of wishing I could chuck it all and move back to the Bay Area, I found myself ready to come home – to Chicago.

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