The summer before my freshman year I visited the Bay Area with my family and fell in love. I loved the people, the history, the weather and the land. I returned home to the East Coast with dreams of Berkeley and UCSF, hippies and freedom. That winter my family visited our small, local mountain to ski. We were allowed to bring a friend. My twin sister and her friend started playing a lying game. They would get on the 3-person chairlift and make up stories. They would tell the stranger they were cousins visiting from Canada, they were friends from summer camp in Mexico. Who knows what webs they wove. But I thought it was cool. Very, very cool. And I wanted to try it.
I thought of my cover story. I got in line with my friend. We sidled up to the stranger and started the short ride up the mountain. Pleasantries exchanged, poles aligned, and I was ready. The older, bearded man asked “Where are you from?”. I jumped in. “Oh this is my cousin and I am just visiting from California.” I am happy, so far so good. “Really”, said the man, “what part of California?” The best was yet to come. “Oh I am a student in Berkeley.” “Reaaalllly?” said the man, “what school are you studying at? I live in Berkeley too.” Wait. What? Wait, oh man, I was screwed. I tried to figure something out, and quick too. “Well, I, umm, I am studying at the arts and crafts school there.” How this came out of my mouth I still don’t understand. I was caught in a lie, and stuck on the chairlift. I did what any good New Englander would do; I looked straight ahead and didn’t talk.
I have always held on to this story as some larger comment on my soul. This was the universe’s way of keeping me honest. I am a bad liar. I shouldn’t have tried to create a false image. The biblical judgment flowed with this story. But today I think I understand what that was all about.
Today was a soaring, beautiful day in Oakland. I am starting to find a groove here on my days off and one of our favorite things to do is take our dog for a hike in the redwoods. We were headed out of the neighborhood, about three blocks from my house, when I saw it. Close to our home is an art school. It is called the California College of the Arts. Sometimes they have gallery shows and I run by it on a regular basis. But today I looked at the original seal that held the full name of the school. And it is the California College of Arts and Crafts. Arts and Crafts school. And I live three blocks from it.
Now, I believe in signs. And I believe in the universe telling me things. Somehow that little, crazy, scared 14-year-old saw something. Something in me always knew I would end up here. Something was set in motion and some path was set up that I knew a long time ago. Why I even decided to lie and pretend I was a macrame major in an Arts and Crafts school 3,000 miles from my home on a snowy day in 1993 is beyond me. But something in me knew I would end up here. And if that isn’t the ultimate confirmation that I am on the right path, I don’t know what is.