Sunday, July 17, 2011

California Dreamin'

It's been almost a year since I packed up my bags and drove my little red Suzuki Forenza (RIP) the long (but surprisingly not awful) drive from Kansas to California. My friend, Candice and I packed my car full of essentials and snacks and avoided a speeding ticket in Oklahoma, suffered through short downpours of rain in New Mexico, and drove exhausted and road weary around the mountains in Arizona.
Let me say one quick thing about Arizona: I do not like the state (don't be fooled by the photo). At the height of border security last summer, my equally tanned friend and myself joked that maybe we were too dark to drive through the state. Maybe I don't like it because it was the final destination after a long day of driving. Maybe because driving around mountains in the dark makes you start to hallucinate UFOs. Maybe because it's hot and desert-y and full of cacti. Or, maybe my experience with the state has not been the greatest because of things that have nothing to do with the actual state. Others have insisted it's a great state because their hot's not humid. 115 degrees is still FUCKING HOT!

The last leg of our trip led us to drive through two checkpoints along sand dunes and the sights of Mexico literally just over the horizon. When we finally pulled into San Diego, I felt excited, happy and surprisingly, at home. My furniture had yet to arrive (and wouldn't arrive for three more weeks!) so we camped out on the floor of my month-to-month rental and planned for some fun days before my friend had to fly back to Kansas.
We ventured to LA with free tickets to George Lopez in the hopes of seeing T.I. When we arrived, they announced T.I. would not be appearing so we decided to hop a double-decker bus and ride down Sunset Boulevard and through the Hollywood Hills to take in the sites like true tourists. We took our pictures next to the wax figure of Samuel L. Jackson and along the various sidewalk stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Later, we staked out the premiere of "Takers", saw T.I., Chris Brown, Hayden Christiansen and then Snoop Dogg walking on the sidewalk right past us. We don't play nonchalant aloofness. We like celebrities. We took pictures.
When my furniture finally arrived, God bless the movers who had to shove all of my stuff into my small apartment. It was the dead of summer, no air conditioning and they had two moves following mine and not once did the complain or act like they had somewhere better to be. One of the moving men even gave me the floor fan from his truck letting me know it would come in handy on those late summer days.
What was to follow was a cycle of fun, adventure, and at times literally just getting by on hope alone. San Diego offers so much to newcomers. Most San Diegans I've met aren't natives at all. They too had the ocean calling their name. The perfect weather. The laid-back attitudes. I have been able to watch sea lions up close and personal in La Jolla. Kayak in the ocean. Watched a whale leap out of the water, several times in fact. I have ziplined at the Safari Park and had chances to make it back to LA. I have walked around the Fashion District. Walked along the Santa Monica Pier and been mesmerized by the skaters of Venice Beach.

I have been able to experience the most perfect food of my life - the Surfin' California burrito from Lucha Libre and enjoyed the quest for the best chicken mole (which has not yet been found). To sum up a year, a dream, isn't really possible. To say there hasn't been difficulties would be a lie. But those days have quickly been replaced by waking up to sunshine and cool weather, ocean breezes and sand beneath my feet. To enjoy a freedom and independence and sheer "because I wanted to" attitude that can never be taken away from me.

It was about two years ago that I told my friend I wanted a change. I felt restless and unsatisfied. Maybe I'll always have a little bit of that feeling in me. But it was just a year ago, I changed that and moved my life two time zones away to set up a little place to call my own.
Was it the right time, the right choice, the right decision for my life? Those really aren't the kind of questions I tend to ask myself. I ask, will I regret not going? Will I wish I would have moved? I'm definitely a "so glad I did it" kind of gal and not a "really wish I would've" type of person. When seeking adventure, taking chances, the best question to ask is that's shouldn't really be a question at all is: Why NOT?

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