SeaSalt Chronicles 9 – Final: Forever California Dreamin’
I’m on the plane, about to take off to London, and as I do so, I’m writing the last entry of my SeaSalt Chronicles. I look out the window and see the airport runway with its flashlights on the sideways. As I feel the seat beneath me trembling, I cling to the view outside for as long as I can. This is the last memory I’m taking with me. The plane is half empty. I only have one passenger next to me with an empty seat between us. Everyone is wearing masks and gloves, it’s scary. I’ve got this bitter taste in my mouth. Fear, like I’ve never felt before. I’m afraid because I don’t know what will happen and because I feel like the world we used to know is falling into pieces, small little pieces around me. Now the plane has finally taken the leap, and I can feel it retreating its wheels and flying off. I look out the window again and I see LA like I’ve never seen it before, with all its shining stars, its tall buildings coming together like an explosion of a million shooting stars. It gives me hope and I feel happy, happy that I got to be a part of it all. I touch my face and it’s wet, I feel the tears pouring out of my eyes as I take one last glance and a flash of memories crosses my mind. I know, I’m the lucky one.
I cannot put the last 6 months into words, but I can say that it was a roller coaster. On my first entry, I said I wanted to move abroad on my own because I wanted to know who I am. Now I do. Thanks to all the people I’ve met and all the life I’ve experienced. Before coming here, I wasn’t as confident as I am now. I found myself living all these different versions of myself and my perspective shifted. It’s true, people and places can change you, they’ve certainly changed me. I learnt that just sitting down with someone and listening to what they have to say, giving them your words can make their day. I learned not to be afraid of having loud opinions in a conversation, that it would make people respect and listen to you. I learned that the ability to be yourself will make you remarkable for others.
This experience has become such an essential part of who I am today and it has especially taught me a lot about people. At the beginning you just want to be friends with anyone and everyone but time allows you to differentiate your ‘friends’ from your real friends and to invest time in people who are actually worth it. I’m glad I was able to make the right choices and now I have friends for life. However, the bad moments aren’t necessarily bad at all. They are part of the experience too. The hurtful experiences allow you to grow. Some friendships are shorter than others. I believe some people are meant to cross our paths, no matter how long or how short their stay is going to be, to reveal the tiniest parts of ourselves that make us who we are. If it wasn’t for those people, I would’ve never known other qualities in me that make me who I am. I’m grateful I’ve met them.
I’m going to miss Santa Barbara and the community at UCSB a lot. California is exactly how you expect it to be. It’s everything written in songs and books, it’s exactly how they describe it (except, perhaps LA). The Golden State at sunset really goes gold by the hour, when the sunlight draws an orange skyline on the hills. The skaters rolling down the road on their skateboard, EarPods on and wearing their worn-out Vans make a flip turn at the curb. The completely shirtless blond frat boys with their surfboards under their arms going to surfing, while the girls in their high-waisted shorts whistle back at them, as they show off their bikinis.
Suddenly, my summer has turned blue, as I leave a place I learned to love and which outgrew who I am. I’m going to have to deal with the departure of people and moments I know will never return. I’m saying goodbye with a heavy heart to the many places that have become an integral part of my persona. There’s always going to be a memory of Santa Barbara that will bring me back. Be it walking downtown on Saturday mornings to go sailing, going to 6711 Sábado Tarde every Friday to play beer pong with the boys or just down Del Playa to go to the beach or join a party. There’s always going to be a name, a flavour, a smell that will always take me back here and the moments I lived in Isla Vista. These are all the things that make California what it is – the weather, the people, the lifestyle. As the Eagles wrote in one of their songs, California is the kind of place you can check out as many times you like but you can never leave. Indeed, you can’t. Once you go in, it’s hard to turn back out. No matter where you are, you’ll always stay connected, somehow. You’re absorbed by life that becomes yours the more you breathe into it.
I’m leaving California and bring home all the life and friends I’ve made in the last months. I’ll save in my heart every single moment, the people, the places I got to meet during my time abroad, and I encourage anyone who wants to go abroad to do it. You won’t regret a thing, I assure you! Maybe in a couple of years, when you’re really old, you’ll have a bunch of stories to tell and I wonder how many people can pride themselves in something like that.
Note to the Reader:
I know we’re going through some really tough times as of Coronavirus spreading at a fast rate all over the world. I didn’t want to call off my year abroad so soon, but after the border between the UK and the US got closed, I had no other option but being forced to leave. Leaving California all of a sudden, really made me appreciate my time here even more. It taught me that we must always live for today and leave tomorrow for what is to be. If there’s something you need to say to someone today, just say it. If there’s something you need to do today, just do it. Don’t wait for tomorrow to hug your mom and tell her how much you love her after your little quarrel with her, do it today. You know that guy, the one you’ve been dying for the right opportunity to talk to for months? There’s no such thing as the right opportunity anymore, just go for it and do it. Tomorrow can be too late. I’ve managed to do pretty much everything I meant to do while abroad. I did all the things I should and shouldn’t have done. I lived life in California to the fullest, every minute, every second of it and I regret nothing. I learned. I travelled. I explored. I wasn’t waiting for tomorrow to happen. Life is too short and tomorrow may never come so whatever it is you have to do, do it today – be bold!
I honestly hope we can find a way of fighting this virus. Until then, keep washing your hands and stay safe folks xxx
PS: Stay tuned for more stories and other potential chronicles in the future.
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