Yesterday afternoon, I had lunch plans in Davis. Afterward, since I wasn’t having a very busy day, I just drove around for about 45 minutes before I started to head back toward home.
Davis is a small city of 65,000 (yes, that’s considered small around here) in Yolo County, California, about 15 miles west of Sacramento and 70 miles northeast of San Francisco. It is adjacent to a large public university, which I attended from 1994 to 1999, and for the most part surrounded by farmland. Davis is a very unique place. It is a classic example of a college town, with a significant portion of the population, economy, and culture dominated by the university. Also, somewhat because of this, Davis is one of the most bicycle-friendly communities in the USA, with many miles of bike trails and greenbelts that I spent much of my late teens and early 20s exploring. Statistically, Davis is part of the Greater Sacramento region, and also not far from the outer reaches of the San Francisco Bay Area, but Davis is also isolated enough to feel like its own little world in many ways.
Had I done more research on the city of Davis while I was choosing colleges, there is a good chance I would not have gone there. Davis, being dominated by the university, has a pretty extreme leftist slant in its local politics, and in my teens I leaned even farther to the right than I do now. But, the longer I lived there, the more it grew on me. As I have written before, I became a Christian while a student at UC Davis, and I found a church there that felt like home. I stayed in Davis for a couple years after graduation, because by then it was my home. I had a job within commuting distance, I had friends, and I was active in a church. I thought I was going to settle there, although circumstances took me in a different direction. I lost that job around the same time that most of my close friends moved away, and I followed suit and moved away in July of 2001.
On a few occasions, particularly when life seemed uncertain and I wasn’t sure what step to take next, I’ve considered moving back to Davis. But every time I’ve given this more than just a passing consideration, it has felt like a bad idea, at least at the time. Davis is a great place for a college student, which I am not anymore. Davis is a great place to raise a family, which I don’t have. Davis is a great place for hippies, which I will never be. But at this point in my life, it’s not for me. I’m not saying that middle-aged singles can’t be happy and feel at home in Davis, and the argument could be made that I fit in just as poorly where I live now, since it’s mostly families. But knowing what I’m like, if I were to move back to Davis, the temptation would be too strong to live in the past and deny the reality that it’s not 1998 anymore. And that’s not healthy.
Seasons change. Things come to an end. I’m not in Davis anymore, and it’s not my home anymore, but it’s still very close. So I’ll just have to settle for visiting occasionally, and driving around reminiscing if I have time, building on what I have learned in the past to create my future.