California: What I Need

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you’ll find:  you get what you need.

The sun knocked on the window panes on the plane and woke me from my habitual slumber. With eyes adjusting to the warm hue, I peered out to watch the majestic sun enter the world that day over the mountains and the plains. Adventure and friendship brought me to California. Eager and with great expectations, I seemingly ran to greet my friend. Yet by the she arrived, I had encountered two stereotypical creeper California men who either remarked on the adult entertainment industry or had obsessively watched my every move to report back. But the moment the yellow beacon pulled into LAX, none of it mattered.

See, rare is it to find as an adult that you have maintained a friendship from grade school. People move away; life happens. Yet I found a friend who knew me from my red-leather-pants days (Junior High was experimental when it came to fashion– scratch that– I’d still wear those pants) and has continued as a best friend, though our zip codes have a high rate of change.  Her relocation to California to pursue a career as a professional athlete came with a high opportunity cost (something I learned the hard way when I too moved away from “home” to a foreign land all by myself). But after two years of livin’ la vida loca (also known as hard work and a lot of missing home), I don’t think I’ve ever seen my friend so happy. Little thing called love will do that to you though.

Her little yellow car joined the bandwagon of Los Angeles traffic and with the fresh California sun streaming in, I exhaled a sigh of relief. Palm trees lined the streets in plenty, challenging the stop lights for space. This land, though foreign, was swept with a light breeze and a blanket of sunshine everywhere you looked. Life was good indeed.

The trip allowed for many workouts as she had sessions to attend. My friend is a world-class athlete and with Nationals this weekend, we visited the track where she would continue her incredible speed while I spent the hours running outside and secretly starting triathlon training again. Which led to some realizations…

A) I love running in humidity
B) I love running at sea level
C) I just said I love running– uh oh.

(Note: most interesting running experience would be when a toddler ran away from home to go run with me– yes, I did walk her back home to her mom, who surprisingly did not care that her little girl ran away with a stranger. I held my tongue. Wasn’t easy.)

California was different than I had experienced last time I was there. I don’t know if it is California that has changed or if it is me. I am always shocked at how much I learn about myself and about humanity when I travel.  Right align with my observations, I entered the home of a strangers whom hugged me and fed me, talked for hours with me, and beamed ear-to-ear with joy for my friend. This would be my best friend’s future in-laws.  There were prayers in Hebrew (what?), organic Cali meals (duh), and discussions of the happy couple. Throughout my years, I’ve observed my fair share of relationships which has naturally led to my personal theories and thoughts. Watching my parents maintain a relationship and friendship my entire life has solidified the knowledge  that marriage can last. And I know, without a doubt in my mind, when my friend gets married, I will bawl my little eyes out because it is perfect. They are meant for each other.

Rewind a little:  my history of living in Texas contains the years of a photography business I had. With my move to New Mexico, I had given up two large joys in my life: music and photography.  I knew one day I would get back into it– and life has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need. I spend an entire day trekking around SoCal with my camera in hand, at times laying in dirt, getting drenched in the surf, finding sand particles crawling all over me, and capturing my best friend smile endlessly. It was the rebirth of a passion. The magical “ah-ha” moment where waves of happiness wash over you, peace resounds within you, and you know, without a doubt, this is something you will continue to love for an eternity. This passion was mirrored in the faces of my two friends as I sat behind my wide angle lens. (all women– you can say “awww”)

Exhausted, we rolled back home where we, as stereotypical twenty-something girls, stayed up talking and laughing for hours. And next thing you know, I was bawling my eyes out in LAX on my way home. See, Cristin is family for me. Not family that is related– as we have no ties nor connections other than our history together, but she is the type of friend whom you need no explanations. Wholly myself, I was completely real and honest; she’d have it no other way. We had real conversation of everything under the sun. The unknown requires explanation. Yet when you know someone, to their core, their hopes, fears, dreams, hurts, happiness– and have experienced all of it together, that type of bond goes beyond liking sushi and a cosmopolitan.

My trip to Los Angeles wasn’t what I was expecting. It didn’t go as planned. And though I have a plethora amount of hopes, dreams, goals, and desires throughout all aspects of my life, that would never leave me teary-eyed in an airport. But family– someone like Cristin– that is what life and humanity is made of.  A realness of that level is the marrow of life. And it is exactly what I needed.

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