#22: On California

#22: On California

This summer while visiting California, I was walking on the beach with my best friend since seventh grade, and we started talking about how I felt about Georgia vs. California. She said it sounded like a moment in Sweet Home Alabama, where Melanie says “My life in New York works, Jake.  But then I come down here… and this fits too.”  And that is exactly how I feel.  I love living in Georgia.  I have established a life here: roots, dear friends, family and so many wonderful  memories.  It works, and I truly have no desire to move, but when I am back in California… oh… it just fits too.  A part of my heart comes alive when I am there and so much of who I am today is a result of growing up in California.

My California consists of See’s Candy, Bob’s Big Boy, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour,  ChiChi’s Pizza and Winchell’s Donuts.  It is a double scoop of chocolate mint chip ice cream from Thrifty Drug Store.  It is getting to Disneyland at least 30 minutes before the gates open and staying until the last shops close at 1:00am.  It’s Magic Mountain.  It’s the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  It’s church camp at Woodlake Ranch, Forest Home and Hume Lake.  It’s camping in Yosemite.  It’s Hollywood and the La Brea Tar Pits.  It’s palm trees, fresh corn on the cob and strawberries from the back yard.  It’s sunshine and shorts and a laid back attitude.  It’s the pool at my grandparent’s house. It’s eating in the backyard as much as possible in the cool evening air.  It’s riding my bike and roller skating on the paseos.  It’s color and music and creativity.

But these places are all special because of the people with whom I shared them and with whom I created precious memories.  The wonderful friends with whom I was blessed to grow up, who knew me as a child, a preteen and a teenager.  The friends with whom I’m still close as an adult.  The members of my family who all once lived there.  Even the new friends there whom I’ve gotten to know since I moved.  Friends I now visit as much as possible, often with my aunt and cousin.  Friends  with whom I laugh and laugh and with whom I have continued adventures and make new California memories.

I often wonder who I would be and what my life would be like if I hadn’t moved.  And sometimes I truly wish my family had stayed.  But, I also know the person I am today was shaped because of that move.  Being forced to make new friends,  to adjust to a new environment and culture, to embrace adventure has made me who I am.  I am thankful for all the new friends and new adventures I’ve encountered because we moved.  But I am also thankful for the opportunities to continue to go back to California to reconnect with the girl I once was, who is still a part of the woman I have become.

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