It's been awhile since I went anywhere aside from Utah, so this trip was just what I needed. I've already been to LA a few times, but never as an adult. Other than hanging with my friend Bianca who I was staying with I really didn't have much on my agenda. One thing I am finally learning and accepting about myself as I get older is I'm just not that into crowds.
The morning started early, but I wasn't dreading the whole airport/flight experience because I was armed with the latest Jonathan Franzen novel. I do love the way just being at the airport reminds you how there is an adventure about to be had. Sometimes, I think I've been so scared of traveling because it reminds me of another time of my life, also the last place I ever saw my husband was in an airport... so maybe there's some underlining thing with that. But I made note of that observation and then just remembered that not everything in my life has to come back to that. This is a new trip, and I'm a totally different person.
Everyone always talks about the laid back west coast vibe and after my brief little trip I can't tell if people are spot on about this or completely off base. I sat in an Avis car rental place waiting for my friend to show up for almost 2 hours, and when she got there and we hugged, I could feel an energy running through her... it felt frazzled. She immediately starts apologizing for the LA traffic, but it was fine... I was on vacation, and I had my book! This definitely was a theme that ran through the whole weekend. Waiting to find a spot at the parking lot to the grocery store, waiting to get a table in the breakfast diner, waiting in traffic on the way home from the beach. With all of the waiting that people in LA have to do, I can't tell if they are the most zen people because they haven't went off the deep end with how much time of their lives is just wasted waiting or if really they are all angry on the inside because the traffic always sucks, etc. I personally was amazed by this lifestyle. It really didn't stress me out and I don't know if that's because I've been doing yoga, or if it's because I take anti-anxiety medication, or if it was simply because this wasn't permanent for me.... it was a vacation.
Onto the reasons why people can put up with all this waiting, because on the flip side of the equation... there are beaches. And sunsets.
We had a great day where we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway out to a surf n' turf restaurant called Neptune's Net. This place was insane, so many people waiting to grab a spot! It was well worth the wait though. And after that we drove to a beach that wasn't secluded, but kind of felt like it was. And maybe that's why people pay so much to live in California... because you can stand at the foot of the ocean with one of your best friends and feel like you have all the space in the world.
I strongly believe that as cliche as it sounds, the ocean is the best therapy. All you have to do is sit in the traffic to get there, pay the steep price to park there (thanks B!), find the perfect spot and then breathe it all in. What is it about the ocean that gets us going? Is it just because I'm a water sign? Is it because we are made of water? Why is it that we can visit a place we've been maybe a handful of times if ever and feel so at home in ourselves, in the world, in our place? With each tide that rushes in and out over my feet I felt reborn. Reinvigorated. Cleansed. Pure. Why?
I know many of us get these feelings in the mountains too.
Anyways, with any good beach and after a late lunch you are contractually obligated to sit and watch the sunset.
Then after the sun sets past the horizon line, we all scurry to our cars and sit on the I-10 for hours to drive the short distance home. But unlike the drive to the beach, now we have been restored. And we sing.
I loved staying with my friend. Again, I'm stating the obvious when I say that you learn a whole other side of your friends when you stay with them and are together day in and day out.
I loved the way when we'd leave the beach after sunset Bianca would talk about the fog rolling in and the way it messes with the windshield. I loved that her playlists are still filled to the brim with songs from when we were younger. I love that when she steps out of her apartment complex I can picture the restaurants within walking distance, the little courtyard where we sat and theorized and speculated about Game of Thrones. I love that she watches a reality TV show about the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. I love that her baristas know her high maintenance drink order and greet her with warm welcomes each morning. I love that when work is stressing her out she turns to God.
For my last night there we went to the Santa Monica Pier and watched the sunset. A moment came when there was such a big wave that I noticed people oohing and ahhing like my mom does for big fireworks. Then I noticed how many people around me were all speaking different languages, and as corny as it is I loved how we might all come from different places but at the end of the day we all love a good sunset. Sitting on the pier that night I felt so connected... The couples kissing, the girl with the goosebumps pulling her shawl over her shoulders, my friend hosting me and showing me her beautiful life... these are the things that I will always remember about my trip to California.