My husband and I dropped our youngest child off at college last month but she's not the only one in our family whose life is in transition. After 17 years on the West Coast, we're getting ready to move back east. Back to where we were both born, back to where we went to college, back to where people look east to see the ocean.
With decidedly mixed emotions, I've found myself thinking about our time out west, out here where people don't immediately assume things based on your last name, where the next big land mass is Asia, where people seem more comfortable thinking and being a little bit outside the box.
As I look back, I realize it's my own kids and the fourth and fifth graders I taught who gave me both the inspiration and the permission to do many of the things I will most remember; like walking over the Golden Gate Bridge, hiking out to see the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo, gazing up at redwood trees and down at sunflower stars, visiting Coyote Hills Park, getting a glimpsing of how people lived in this land of plenty before Europeans arrived.
I'll treasure the specific places, the field trips and the outings and all the stories I've heard along the way. But it's a simple Spanish phrase I'll most remember: "mira vista". It's such a common name - of streets, of schools, even of a golf course - that it's easy to ignore the imperative: mira vista. Look at the view.
From the tops of hills in the East Bay, watching fog lift and roll as if it were alive. From a hundred places all around the Bay where herons and egrets manage to forage at low tide even as 10 lanes of traffic race by. From a thousand glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge through backyards and around corners, sometimes in the most wonderfully unexpected places.