24 May Saying Goodbye to California
It’s been 4 moths since I started writing this post and I’ve been having the hardest time clicking “publish”. Guess I believe that in doing so, it makes it all definite. But I’ve come to realize that in sharing it, I’m honoring my time in California and that that’s exactly what I set out to do when I started writing it in the first place. So, here it is.
It was a crispy autumn day in Washington DC when we got the news: everything had aligned the way we wanted to and we were moving to California. I still remember the way we hugged, screamed in that nervous excitement that leaves you restless, and how we danced around the apartment to a California playlist we made just for the occasion. The happiness pouring out of Isaac’s eyes is something I’ll never forget.
We were so happy.
It’s not that we were happy about leaving DC (even though I knew I wouldn’t miss the cold), but California had been a dream of ours for a long time, and it was finally coming true.
Less than two -crazy- weeks later, we were on a plane that was taking us to the beaches of Orange County. Our first week there, since we had nothing in our apartment because we’d sold everything back in DC, we had to eat, read, watch Netflix, and sleep on the floor.
Now, as I write this, our home is empty again but this time the emptiness feels different. Once again we have to eat, read, watch Netflix, and sleep on the floor but now it’s because our time here has come to an end. It’s time to say goodbye to California.
I can’t put into words how hard it is for me to leave a place that has given me so much. A place that I’ll always remember with love.
There’s no other place in the world, except Mexico, which I can call home with as much conviction.
Orange County is an amazing place to live in. It has perfect weather year-round, it’s the place to be if you’re vegan and if you’re serious about working out. It’s a nature’s lovers paradise, and people are friendly and laid-back. I could always leave home in a pair of shorts, a tank top, and flip flops, and don’t get me started on the sunsets…
But California was so much more to me. It was the place where I came closer than I’d ever been to getting to know the “real me”.
You see, I’d spent most of my life thinking that I was scared of everything. And maybe I was. I didn’t dare try new things, I was always wary of making an ass of myself in public, and everything just always seemed kind of dangerous. I was content with staying inside the very tiny four walls of my comfort zone, and I never felt like there was something missing.
California taught me that there was, in fact, a tiny fire burning inside me, waiting for me to discover it and set it completely aflame. And what a roller coaster it has been ever since!
It all started with a trip to a surf shop in Laguna Beach. I went in because the clothes looked cute and I came out with an itch. I saw a picture of a girl in a SUP, out on the ocean, sun-kissed skin, probably advertising a wet suit, but I remember wanting to try it. I wanted to be the girl on the board. The next day I couldn’t get it out of my head, and so unlike me, I booked a lesson for the next day.
I was scared when we got to Pirate’s Cove in Laguna Beach, and I almost chickened out. I was scared of falling in that freezing water, scared of not being able to actually paddle and making a fool of myself, scared of seeing a whale… Just plain scared.
Turns out, I didn’t have to be.
The lesson was more like renting a pair of SUPs, and a guy telling us a cool route to go see the sea lions. We had to figure it out on our own. But funny thing was, I was actually good at it. It came naturally to me. Not that it’s actually hard, but I’d been under the impression that I was terrible at all these kinds of activities.
Soon, I felt at ease and relaxed. Instead of focusing too hard on me and my movements, I started really seeing everything around me: The water, so clear that I could see straight to the bottom, the tiny waves that rocked me slightly, and the playful sea lions. I wondered why I hadn’t tried it sooner.
This was just the beginning of me trying new things that I’ve discovered I was born to do, but was so busy being scared that I never actually considered them before. It may seem silly to you; Paddleboarding is not something out of this world. It surely isn’t an extreme sport. But it was a great deal to me. It was the moment everything clicked, and shifted, and I started walking down the path towards becoming the woman I am today.
After SUP came kayaking, slacklining, surfing (this I’m actually terrible at, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying it).
Then came small hikes that turned into 8-hours strenuous treks. Then, came abseiling, rock climbing, river wading, camping, and one of the activities I love the most that just jumbles everything up: canyoning.
This was what life was supposed to feel like. Soon, we planned our trip to New Zealand and we did it all. I hiked glaciers, rafted the highest commercially waterfall in the world, went spelunking, black water rafting, paragliding, canyoning, kayaking through the fiords, and I didn’t miss out on anything. I can’t help but wonder if this trip would’ve been completely different if we hadn’t lived in California before. I kind of think it would.
In California I also became fit and I learned that food should be nurturing. I was in the best shape I’ve been all my life. I’ve danced since I can remember, so I was used to moving and using my body, but here I discovered that working out is something I truly enjoy. Not only because it makes me feel good, but because it makes me stronger to try even more new things.
I learned to cook and I discovered that I actually looked forward to spending time in the kitchen, whipping up new dishes, and experimenting with ingredients I’d found at the Farmer’ Market.
I discovered that one of the places I feel more at peace, where I can really be with me, is rollerskating, earphones on, letting everything go, along the boardwalks by the beach. And now it’s a hobby I don’t think I could give up.
For the first time in my life I dedicated two hours of my day, every day, to yoga and I got addicted to the feeling of gratitude and peace that it left me with. I discovered how wonderful it felt to take care of myself.
I took writing courses, and I got better at it. California was also the place where we started this blog as a way to express ourselves and share our adventures through my writing and Isaac’s photography, and it has become one of my passions.
I was thrown into a journey of self-discovery so intimate, and fun, and enlightening. I found myself digging deeper, curious to see what more surprises I’d been holding up inside. I was blessed to have shared this all with Isaac,who is encouraging and loving and just makes everything more fun.
I discovered that I do not only have the courage to try new things, but that it makes me happy to do them. I’ve now experienced this feeling of being completely alive and I can’t get enough of it. It still makes me uncomfortable to not be good at something in front of an audience but I’ve learned that it shouldn’t matter, and I haven’t let this keep me form trying something I want to do. It’s still difficult, but at least I’m trying now.
Coming from a city as big, and chaotic, and populated, and fun as Mexico City, I really thought I was a city girl. Before moving to OC, I couldn’t stand the idea of not living at the center of it all. In fact, Orange County seemed like a terribly boring place to be. We had always wanted to move to San Diego, and when the opportunity rose in Orange County, we thought that we could live there for a short period of time while we figured a way to move to bigger, busier, San Diego.
A month in and we didn’t want to leave. It was like we were meant to be living here. There was so much Orange County wanted to teach us, and we were ready to be taught.
Now, I’d rather live by the beach and closer to nature. The things I thought I loved and needed like popular landmarks, good restaurants, being around lots of people, etc, now seem unimportant compared to good hiking trails, boardwalks for skating, and a good SUP and kayak rental place.
After two amazing years we’ve made the decision to leave. And it hurts. I’ve had to wipe my tears off my keyboard several times now. But I know that this sadness that Isaac and I are feeling only means that we were so happy here that it makes it even harder to say goodbye.
I’ll always be thankful to Irvine, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Santa Ana, Laguna Niguel, Anaheim, Dana Point, Huntington Beach… not only for being crazy beautiful but also for showing me that I can be so much more than I thought I could. I didn’t give myself enough credit, and here I found just how wrong that was.
So thanks OC for showing me just how fun and exciting life can be. In your honor, I’ll live it as fully as I did here, wherever life takes me next.