52514_isi_usmnt_usmnt052114104 John Todd/isiphotos.com
Dispatch from Palo Alto

ASN's Jon Arnold Arrives in California, Gets (Un)Settled

American Soccer Now's Jon Arnold felt something strange in the air the instant he arrived in the Bay Area, and that's before anybody mentioned anything about that player we're not supposed to talk about anymore.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
May 25, 2014
8:47 AM
PALO ALTO, Calif.—I’ve got this thing about California.

The Golden State is supposed to make me laid back, give me #positivevibes, keep me chill. But I’m always overly cautious when I’m here. That tentativeness is a jarring feeling for me, generally the most carefree of carefree, but for whatever reason it always takes me a while to settle in.

Previously, I’ve only visited Southern California, and maybe I’m just a little too self-conscious. The beautiful landscapes, the excellent-looking people, the angry drivers and devil-may-care motorcyclists darting through traffic, and the police cars which by some sort of California law haven’t been updated since 1979. It’s all a little Hollywood for me, and I have to rub my eyes a few times before I get my wits and realize I’m not in some Truman Show moment.

So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I touched down in the Bay Area for the first time Saturday. I hadn’t even unbuckled my seat belt before some hilarious jokester sang a few bars of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, but thankfully things have been improving appreciably since that assault on the memory legacy of Tony Bennett (just looked it up and can confirm Tony Bennett is still alive).

To get to Palo Alto from SFO, I hopped the CalTrain, which reminded me of London—though certainly not because of aesthetics. The easy, tree-dotted hills and waterfront views are proprietary, but taking an above-ground train to get farther into the suburbs, and indeed training ground location, had an English feel. So too did the fact that I had no idea what I was doing but looked competent enough to be asked for directions by a few fellow travelers. I made it to my destination without any Ruthvenesque mishaps, though I did head the wrong direction on BART at one point. The cop car from the 70s and the conversation between Stanford students seated behind me about how their siblings’ SAT scores matched up with their own confirmed to me I was in California.

There was no media availability for the U.S. team today, so I had to resist the impulse to put a microphone in the face of the guy cycling across the street wearing an American jersey, shorts and red-and-white striped socks when I grabbed Asian food for lunch.

Sunday I’ll put my instincts to good use, and there’s certainly plenty to be discussed. In fact, keep an eye out for the top questions left to be answered at the U.S. camp and plenty more about the sights, sounds and feel of things from Northern California. I’m pretty well acclimated. The Stars and Stripes? We’ll find out soon.

Post a comment