16 April 2009

We're not in LA anymore.

You know that whirlwind you find yourself in when you first come home from a vacation? Part of you is longing to be back in the carefree state, miles away from your real life, your job, your pets, your bills. And then there's that other part of you that makes the transition back home easy: it's that little voice of truth that tells you that your heart is at home with your full sized shampoo bottles.

But what about those who go on vacation to check out their living arrangements for next year? What about the people who go on vacation already in love with the place, fall even more in love with it, and then have to go back home to wait 3 months? What about the people who get a taste of honey so much sweeter than the honey that's already at home? And they love both honies, but the new honey is so much more lively than the old? What's a girl to do?
I am leaving LA this August, and not just going to San Diego like I did last year. I am going over 500 miles, over 9 hours via car, a 1 1/2 hour plane ride followed by another 2 hour drive into town. I'm doing it this time, I am growing up.

What I like about the beautiful not-so-small town that I have chosen to transfer to in August is that it's nothing, and I do mean NOTHING like Los Angeles. Don't get me wrong, I love LA, and I always have, but it's just so big. At El Camino College, making friends is very difficult, because they come from all over LA. I've made friends with thousands of people that I will never be able to hang out with outside of the classroom because they live 2 hours east of the school, and I live 30 minutes west of the school.

I love the ocean, but I also don't appreciate the ocean as much as I should. I don't notice the salt in the air, I don't even make it out to surf or tan that much anymore. I love shopping at the Beverly Center and Melrose, I love picnic-ing in Venice, I love watching the lights at night above the city, I love hiking up in Palos Verdes, and I love having fresh seafood. But finally one day I summed all this up, and I realized that I could live without those things, simply because they weren't going anywhere. Maybe I listened to the Dixie Chicks far too much, but what I felt I needed was wide open spaces, room to make a big mistake. Enter a fairly small town in Northern California, and my heart was sold.

Traffic in Chico, CA is like the traffic that accumulates at Trader Joe's on a Saturday: there's limited parking close by, there's a crowd, but it's a crowd of friendly people. No one ever yells at you. Traffic in LA is a bit different to say the least. I think it's funny comparing flying into Sacramento vs flying into LAX. LA looks like a disease, an outbreak of sores scarring the land. Sacramento has a small little city, but it's surrounded by green fields. LA is surrounded by, well, LA, and then it's surrounded by more LA, and just when you think you're out of LA you're in LA. If you leave Chico, you're literally surrounded by nothing. You don't know what city or county you're in, you just follow the straight road hoping it leads somewhere. And I love it.
The best part about being surrounded by nothing is that no one has a choice but to live in Chico. You can make plans with people and walk to their house. You don't even need a car or a can of pepper spray.
I used to think that home is where the heart is, and maybe it is. But my home has held my heart in its stucco walls for far too long. I've got 3 months...and a desk jammed with papers, a closet stuffed full of clothes (mostly lululemon), enough bracelets and DVDs shoved under my bed to open up my own pawn shop, and a bookcase full of books I'll never read again. Maybe I do need these 3 months, but really I think Tom Petty had it right: waiting is the hardest part.

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