There are no beautiful days in Silicon Valley. It’s either normal (exactly 78 degrees, no clouds, slight breeze) or godawful (anything else). Most of the time, the sky is just a blank screen of electric blue like one of those old TV/VCRs without a tape in it, waiting for a signal. There are no seasons either, unless you count morning and nighttime when it gets just chilly enough for a light half-zip fleece or a neon hiking jacket (preferably one that’s breathable and waterproof and BPA-free and probably fluent in Mandarin). But that’s it. When it actually does rain --- I’ve seen it happen once so far --- people look up in shock like they’re watching a toilet overflow. You hear a lot of hallelujahs and what-the-fucks for 20 minutes, and then the sun comes out again, and everyone looks back down at their phones to see what their friends are saying about the weather.
You either love this or you hate it. You’re in heaven, or you’re in a microwave oven permanently set on low.
I’m still undecided. I left Brooklyn for California four months ago, which is long enough to get used to buying wine at the grocery store, but short enough that I still remember things like what a real bagel feels like (tough) and where to wait on the G platform (the middle) and when a true gentleman should sit down on the subway (never, according to my friend Tony). I miss all the obvious stuff: friends, taxis, foldable pizza. I knew those would hurt, and they do. But I didn’t know I’d miss clouds.
Not just fog or mist or the “marine layer,” whatever they call it here. Real clouds. I miss the way they look in the suburban Midwest, like big globs of Cool Whip sliding on blue Jell-O. (Incidentally, this is something I’ve seen served for dessert in the suburban Midwest.) Or the way they hang around Seattle all the time, like Deadheads who don’t know what to do now that the band is retired. I miss the way they look when you’re above them in a plane and you suddenly remember that before planes, the only way you could see the tops of clouds was to climb up a mountain, which, let’s be honest, is asking a lot for a nice view of condensation.
Mostly, though, I miss the ones from New York: the curls that get snagged on the top of the Empire State building; the red-hot orange ones that hang over New Jersey right after the sun sets in summer; the grayish down comforters that settle in for a week at a time in December; the fat white zeppelins that float over Central Park in the fall; the black man-o-wars that roll in over the Hudson full of rain; those icy squiggles that look almost as cold as you feel when it’s still 35 degrees even though it’s early April. (And isn’t April supposed to be spring already?) Just picturing them makes my day brighter.
California has nice things too, don’t get me wrong. There are palm trees and mountains and old-fashioned car washes and local artichokes, and I know I mentioned the wine in grocery stores already but it really bears repeating; they have wine in grocery stores here. Life is reassuringly constant: traffic is bad, In-N-Out is good, sky is blue. It makes the tiny, temporary differences easier to savor.
Yesterday, for example, was a little bit overcast. All the peach stucco buildings that usually look so rosy and bronzed were faded to the exact color of my thighs in winter. A friend told me the weather made her feel tired. Instead of nodding in Californian agreement, I told her I thought all the grey was a pretty exciting change --- from Kansas to Oz in reverse. I wasn’t kidding. But she laughed a little, so I did too.
By noon, it was back to normal.
Adam Markovitz is a Renaissance man. After nearly a decade at a fabulous entertainment magazine, writing about stars and films and television shows, he recently left the glitzy world of glossies and jaunted across the country, to spend the next two years in Palo Alto. It seems important to note here that one of the best things that has ever happened (anytime, anywhere) was the headline Adam wrote to crown his cover story of Behind the Candelabra: “Romancing the Rhinestone.” We hope that fact featured prominently on his B school application.
Besides writing great copy, Adam is also a really excellent friend. When they were students together in Paris, he taught Barbara to love butter, to eat Nutella at least biweekly, and to dance in stocking feet to prevent downstairs neighbors from having her expulsée. Though Lydia has never needed guidance on the butter or Nutella front, Adam has long been a source of true-to-music-video (Toxic era) Britney Spears dance moves, and correct lyrics to every great pop song, like ever. He also made clafoutis in college which seemed (still seems) to Lydia to be the most sophisticated thing in the world a person could do. Ever strong on the food front, Adam also taught Barbara to make crepes (even providing the electric crepière, which was obviously a dream come true), revealed the secret that everything on a French menu you’ve never heard of is some kind of white fish, and, to be honest, probably taught her French in general (which he still speaks, impeccably).
In sum, Monsieur Markovitz is a writer, traveler/adventurer/globe trotter, navigator, Oscars-party-thrower, looker, friend, and future businessman par excellence. We would vote Adam over Martha any day.
- Barbara & Lydia