It occurred to me recently that I write reviews for hotels, but not for books. I have an account with Goodreads and at best, I sometimes leave a star rating. I have been thinking why this is. I write stories and I publish them. Surely I should review books too? Well I have come to the conclusion that books change as I change, but that hotel experience will always stay the same.
I remember reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City as a teenager and it hitting a chord. It made me realise that there are people out there, people on the edge of society, who are trying to lead their lives and be happy. I so wanted to live in Mrs Madrigal’s apartment building. They were all young, starting out, making mistakes and having fun. The book inspired me in many ways. To go out into the world and meet people who are not the same as me. To move to different places that were not the same as where I grew up. I wanted to open my mind to it all and be independent. I started to reread Tales of the City recently and it bought back nostalgia of time I once I had, but that was all. I could see clearly that today I want different things. I have moved on in my life. I still want independence and an open mind, but I want my own home and a family, next door to Mrs Madrigal. Ha ha! Okay, perhaps I have not moved on that much. I expect Mrs Madrigal would be a great neighbour. The series is still good, but it means something different to me today. How could I put a star rating on that?
The Tales of the City also inspired a dream all those years ago. That was to one day visit San Francisco. This is a dream I fulfilled a few weeks ago. Flying over California into San Francisco’s airport was just amazing. There is a great sense of achievement arriving somewhere after 12 hours of rattling away in a tin can over the Atlantic Ocean. My second sense of achievement was cycling through mad San Fran rush hour traffic. Cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge was a breeze in comparison. We spent two weeks travelling down Highway 1, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. My favourite stop was in Pismo Beach. It is described as a nostalgic Californian town and I wished I could have stayed an extra day. Pismo is a place of surf, sun and cool signs
Now I am back in Sweden and I have recovered from the jet lag. The trip seems a bit unreal, a blur even. This is what big trips are like. It takes time to take it all in. I have a few more weeks to relax before going back to school. There is sunshine forecast and I will be making the most of beaches, hanging out in cafes and even a boat trip out to the Gothenburg archipelago. I will be squeezing in a few posts too and some editing on a short story I have written. It is good to be back.
A.J. York is a middle grade and children's writer. Author of Delilah Dusticle, Eliza Bluebell and A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story. A.J York has a Swedish and British background and currently lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.