When I left for college, I knew that I would miss the comforts of home: friends, family, my bed, home cooked meals, and the smiling face of my golden retriever. What I didn’t realize was the extent to which I would miss the diverse coastal landscape of the San Francisco Bay.
When I first traveled to Walla Walla, Washington, the small town where Whitman College is located, I was surprised to see how bare the landscape was. Flying over Walla Walla, all I could see for miles and miles were fields of yellow and brown. Soon after arriving on campus I learned that these were wheat fields and that they surrounded the area. As I familiarized myself with my new home, I began to appreciate the vast horizon that a flat landscape created and the striking oranges and reds that filled the sky above the wheat fields at sunset.
Although I’ve become very fond of Walla Walla, the Bay Area will always have my heart, and every time I come home my love for the Bay seems to grow even more. I still distinctly remember the first time I returned to the Bay after beginning college. It was Thanksgiving break and I had been counting down the days for weeks. I loved school and all of the amazing friends that I had made, but I longed for the smell of salt marshes, for the sound of waves reaching the shore and for the feeling of sand tickling between my toes.
When the time finally came to fly home to Marin, I plugged in my headphones, closed my eyes and envisioned all of my favorite places: Kirby Cove, China Camp, Point Reyes National Seashore, the Stinson Bolinas Lagoon and Muir Beach. Images of early morning fog, Sausalito houseboats, and California poppies danced in my head. I pictured myself hiking the endless trails of Mount Tamalpais and looking out on the Bay from its peak.
Before I knew it, I heard the pilot come on the loudspeaker, announcing that it was time to put our tray tables up and our seats back. The window seat provided the perfect view of our descent into San Francisco. When I looked out at the Pacific, my heart filled with warmth. As we flew over the Marin Headlands, I caught my first glimpse of the Golden Gate, the bridge that had connected me from school to home for years. It was the golden hour, the time when the sun hangs just above the Bay, leaving a glimmering layer of light over the water’s surface right before it sets.
To this day, I still cannot accurately describe the way that coming home makes me feel or the unique perspective that flying over the Bay provides. I always knew that the Bay Area was a very special place and that I was extremely lucky to have grown up there, but it wasn’t until I left that I realized just how important the Bay is to me.
Working at Save The Bay this summer has allowed me to engage in environmental work that pertains to the places that I am most passionate about protecting. Learning about Save The Bay’s amazing founders and the legacy that they created has inspired me to fight for the places that I care about and has further instilled my love for the Bay.