‘Place of Sun’ is where I live. Most people call it Temecula, but that’s what it means. Temecula is a smoosh of the Luiseño Indian words – “temet” meaning “sun” and “-ngna” meaning “place of”. Our ‘place of sun’ is an hour north of San Diego, an hour south of Riverside, and an hour east of Los Angeles. To my way of thinking, it’s the Bermuda Triangle of the Inland Empire, with nicer weather.
For the past fourteen years I have wondered about the other names people call this Place of Sun – Wine Country. Horse Country. And, of course, Suburbia, which is just a modern-day code word for Mediocrity, right?
My kids don’t worry about this label stuff like I do. They’re generally happy whether they’re at the Zoo in San Diego or in the mountains of Idyllwild or just riding their bikes around an endless suburban cul-de-sac. Most children find things of interest wherever they are, even if it’s only the bumpy wheel on a shopping cart. But grown ups? I’m racked with doubt. “Is this where I’ll spend my whole life?” I think. “Won’t I ever be an ex-pat, wandering the streets of Paris in a sleek, tailored raincoat? Surely enlightenment is to be found out there, somewhere. But where?”
I often complain about Temecula’s glaring inadequacies. Why, oh why, are there no shaded parks for the kids to play on? Playgrounds become smoldering metal islands, abandoned as soon as the temperature spikes. There are few outdoor cafes, not even an outdoor mall, even though this is ‘Place of Sun’. Most of the horse ranches that used to dot the landscape have been sold. Now we have streets called Camino Tamale and Paseo Mucho Grande. There are few bike lanes around town, and even fewer walking paths. But by far, the most aggravating aspect of living in Temecula, California is accepting Darrell Issa as my ‘representative’ in Congress. There are few people less representative of me or anything I hold dear than Mr. Issa.
But Temecula does have the ability to shine. It really does. We have awesome low-morning clouds that hang over the mountains and settle down over you like a mystic shawl as you walk the kids to school. There are endless multi-colored hot air balloons waltzing past my kitchen window as I sip my coffee. And on paydays, when I have the energy to tug on control-top underwear and smear on concealer, there are gorgeous wineries where you can sip your cares away nestled right amongst the vines, while swooping red hawks circle overhead and horses neigh nearby.
And tonight, as I soak in my tub after escaping the swirling mayhem of the world, I’m able to watch the sun set. Slivers of pink, orange, and violet billow over our rocky hills, and it is beautiful to behold. (Thank you, wildfires!)
Tonight I feel lucky to be home. Right where I am.