I live in Cambridge, MA, but my home is Calabasas, CA. (Well, my REAL home is NYC, but one can never have too many homes.) Calabasas, at the very tip of the San Fernando Valley, is often in the news for being the home of people like the Kardashians, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and a host of other celebrities. And yes, the magnitude of how much of a celebrity Kim Kardashian really is, is questionable, but there are many other people living in Calabasas who have never seen the other side of a TV screen, and they consider themselves celebrities too. So, just to give you an idea of who my “neighbors” are, and because they have been on TV and in print, we will consider the K family to be “celebrities.” Those of us who are “ordinary folks,” not the celebs or the pseudo-celebs, often take the others in stride. We see them in the market, at the gym, and the car wash. We sit next to them at the baseball fields and at team parties. And in my case, we help them buy their cookware at Williams-Sonoma.
It took me a long while to get used to living in Calabasas. The glitter and pretense were not what I was looking for when I was choosing a place in which to raise my boys. The city was often the butt of my jokes, and I thumbed my nose at the stereotypes. Eventually I discovered if you live there long enough and make it your business to dig deep enough you find that underneath the glitz, a small town does exist. And most of the small-town things people generally want-- the tight-knit community, the civic-mindedness, and the beautiful surroundings--they’re all there. (Okay, they’re on a grander scale, but they’re still there.) One can often see red-tailed hawks soaring above and hear the coyotes yipping and hollering late at night. It is illegal to smoke in public here and the supermarkets demand you bring your own bags. I never thought I would live to say it, but Calabasas really is a little slice of heaven.
After being away for almost eight weeks, I went back to visit this home and it welcomed me with open arms. My friends who through the years have become family were all there. And they made me feel special and missed. I took the time during the year before I moved to really solidify my friendships--to focus on the true relationships I had developed through the years. I knew I would soon be leaving and I wanted my bonds with these people to be even stronger than they had been. I think my friends felt the same. We’ve celebrated births and mourned together at funerals. We’ve been through marriages and divorces. School plays, carnivals, and book fairs, graduations and birthday milestones. Facelifts and eyelifts, breast reductions and breast implants. (Hey, it is Calabasas after all!) Visited the sick, the aged, the poor--all together, all of us from Calabasas. I guess you do have to leave a place and then return to really assess it objectively.
I know that I’ve been away only a short time, and I know that Cambridge will prove to be a great place to live. But the friends I’ve made in Calabasas are an incredible bunch, and wherever they are is home. So Cambridge, I will give you a chance, and make it my business to discover all you have to offer, but in spite of what I’ve heard, I can go home again.