The way to San Jose (and Saratoga and Los Gatos)

nt Thanksgiving in San Jose with part of the family, including two nieces, a grandniece, a sister, and a grand nephew. It was my first Thanksgiving in the states for many years.   All the traditional dishes made it around the table, like roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans and bacon, cranberry sauce, and a few not so traditional:   raw brussel sprout salad, squash and cranberry salad, and roast ham,  followed by pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and apple pie.  Delicious on the day, but after two or three days of turkey or ham sandwiches, microwaved sweet potatoes and green beans, and turkey soup, it all seemed inedible.  So it is, until next year.

The weather has been fine, sunny, but with a chill to the air.  This is northern California, near the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains, and near also to Saratoga and Los Gatos, two communities perched above San Jose.  Once upon a time they were escapes to the hills, mostly woodlands with cabins and farmhouses.  Now,  upscale shops and restaurants  line the main street, frequented by the beneficiaries of Silicon Valley fortunes made in the last 30 years.

We walked yesterday up the hill to the McMansions overlooking the valley below, these monuments to Silicon Valley success,  and today drove to Saratoga to an art center called Villa Montalvo.  It stands in the midst of a wooded park redolent with the aroma of  the spicy pepper trees, the eucalyptus, bay and madrone native to this area.    Although I lived in Silicon Valley for many years, I had forgotten until today the existence of this Mediterranean style villa here in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains., but never do I forget  the scents of northern California forests, and the feel of cool  air barely warmed by a weak winter sun.

Theater, art galleries, and concerts take place all year long at Villa Montalvo, as well as programs for helping developing artists.  So, see, we are not without culture in the new world, even California.

This has been a sentimental journey, a home/not-homecoming, the place where my children were born, where I was a university student, then a young mother, then a part of the working world.  I have not lived here for twenty years.    Being here recalls an old self, a person, or should I say persona,  who used to be and is no longer, but still, lingers at the edge of memory like a dream you can’t quite recall.

Tomorrow, I am off to Chapter I, to southern California where I grew up, to confront another old self.  There have been so many chapters since then.