Southern California has been my home for the past twenty-six years. I have found in recent years that it isn’t until you leave the area you grew up in that you realize you’ve taken for granted the beauty that surrounded you. When I went to Rhode Island for school I missed the mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, and even sometimes I missed the desert. In Cali I live in the perfect location, it takes me less than an hour to reach the peak of the mountains going in to Big Bear, less than an hour to get to Joshua Tree National Park out in the desert, and just about an hour to reach the beach in Orange County.
Now that I am back in California I can’t help but think of everything I miss from Rhode Island and the surrounding New England area. I’ve learned that when you travel you are bound to miss the places you have been. This is especially true when you have been in a place for a good amount of time.
California is a part of me, not only does it define me as a local, but the cultures that are blended and that have become a part of California have become a part of me as well. Sharing its beauty and cultures with friends who have never been here has been eye opening for me in reminding me what I have and how lucky I am to live in this diverse place.
In the past year I have had two friends from school back east visit me out here. Both people are completely different in what they wanted to experience and what they wanted to see and by catering to both requests I realized that there is so much about Cali I don’t know or haven’t truly experienced myself.
My friend Greg came to Cali over Thanksgiving break. He’s from a big city and he wanted to experience the urban cultures here in California. The week he was here was filled with trips to San Diego, Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, Big Bear City, Venice Beach, and Joshua Tree. The trip was a wide range of events, and different cultures.
When Annie came out over her spring break this past week, the trip felt more relaxed. We went to Santa Monica and ate at the pier right after her flight got in, and strangely enough we ran into the women’s lacrosse team from our school at the restaurant. We went to the beach, and the mountains, and the desert multiple times during her trip, and we took pictures. Lots of pictures. We got dressed up and found unique places in my quaint town that I call home, and we had ourselves a photoshoot. We tried a bunch of different foods from all over Southern California. Then, on her last day here we got lost in Los Angeles, drove up to Mulholland Drive and took pictures of the Los Angeles skyline and surrounding area, and finally we drove to Hawthorne next to the LAX airport and had Blaze Pizza. This last part doesn’t really sound all that thrilling in the scheme of things, but for us on the east coast we had to drive 45 minutes to UCONN to get Blaze Pizza and for Annie and I it was some of our best hangout times. Going there rounded out the trip and though she’s only been back on the east coast for a few days I miss her and am dying to go visit both her and Greg.
I learned through these experiences that I am lucky to live where I do and I’ve learned that I am not a huge fan of the large urban cities with all of the traffic. When I travel I enjoy exploring the areas in depth and having the time to really experience a place. Going from highlight to highlight doesn’t allow you to really experience a place or get to know its people. Slowing things down and taking the time to enjoy a place is what makes you fall in love with it and makes you miss it when you leave.