a former professor once tried to convince me that the hills back home in california are brown, not gold, in the summer and fall. after a momentary back-and-forth, he smiled softly at me, knowingly, leaning over his desk, holding me with his eyes while I sat in the chair opposite him. in almost a whisper, he said: “there are no golden hills in california, are there?”
his big hazel puppy dog eyes had that “c’mon, you and I both know that’s true” look. a straight white man, a full professor and director of the grad program i’d never quite been able to personally fit into.
i agreed with him in that moment. i was away from home, in illinois, and even though it seemed to everyone else that i needed no one’s affirmation, i so wanted to belong. to connect. to be a part of the community. a performance community. i’d dreamed of it since i was little. it seemed such a small thing, to see brown hills instead of gold, like he did.
i sold out my golden hills and let go of home that day back in 2011 to please an older white man with lots of power. even though i came home to the bay after grad school, i left again at the end of october 2016 for a little house in oregon trees.
i’m back home now, after a rough landing. and sure, some of the hills are brown. some are even charred black now, too. but california is golden through and through, and these east bay hills shine with possibilities.
some, though, have eyes that will never see past their own limited view, who are eager to share their blindness. some for whom “gold” is too hopeful, too imaginative, and far too filled with creativity. to see gold, for them, is to see emotion: it is childish and naive, and they tell us we just don’t have time for that now. we need to be rational. there is no time for beauty. no time to feel.
i thank the universe every day for vision that is no longer limited by atrophied emotions. i’m grateful that my need to adult has not killed what it means to be a beginner: a lifelong learner, open to the universe — a child of the earth, one with all her creatures. a power-sharer.
i thank the universe every day that i’m not one of the blind ones anymore, that i can see there is gold in those hills.