Mistaken Identities

Dawn Fields – Acrylic on canvas – 32 x 48 inches.

Thanks to films and television, many people I encounter during my travels outside of the United States are surprised to learn that California is not a wonderland of palm trees, sleek automobiles, handsome dudes, and radiant blondes. Also, that it snows here, that San Francisco is not the capitol, and that — alas — you are not a movie star.

Why anyone would take any of the above assumptions to be true is not worth much further thought, except that we’re all enchanted by fantasies, no? Especially our own? Even fantasies we didn’t realize we had? Let’s say, for example, you’re in Avignon, France in a hardware store looking for a fitting for the nozzle of a garden hose, when a stranger walks up and tells you that he and his wife “super-enjoyed” your latest film. It would be best to say, “merci,” and walk away, basking in the glow of your own vanity. That is, unless vanity gets the best of you, and after a couple of questions you learn which movie star the man had mistaken you for. And you discover, immediately and sadly, that vanity, disappointment and humility are three sides of the same coin.

So, wonderlands aside, here’s an image of California you might see if you were on a flight landing in the Central Valley, in Sacramento, the capitol, at dawn on a morning like today. No cars, no blondes, no snow. No film stars either. Neither real ones, nor ones in somebody’s imagination.

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