I came to California for one year.  It was always the plan, ever since the OC came out anyway.  Dream life.  My time here has been a far cry from the Marissa Cooper’s lifestyle I imagined, though.  This story is not meant to be bitter, just a bittersweet moment in my life that I want to take a moment on.

California really is a dream.  It is basically its’ own country besides having a currency.  All this So Cal versus Nor Cal makes me feel like I am caught in an awkward straddle of the Central Coast wondering why all of these lucky California folk think one end is better.

A four-hour drive suddenly sounds fast besides the unreal gas bill that haunts your wallet when you notice your empty tank in Bumbletown, California Road TripValley.  If California were a man, he would be lanky and full of surprises. One minute you are munching on your In n’ Out burger, protein style of course, surrounded by palm trees and before you even get to the beef you are driving into a thick forest of California Oaks. Nevertheless, both are beautiful.

I have made a point to see all there is in this California world.  My adventures partly came from the dread of another frat party in SLO, but also for my unfettered need to explore.  Marge (my Honda) has taken me everywhere from the 101 to San Francisco and Hollywood, the 1 to Big Sur, and the 5 to Lake Tahoe. Bless her soul.

I pictured myself sitting on a lifeguard dock at the beach, just like Marissa Cooper, watching the waves roll around as the sun beats down.  Embarrassingly, I have reenacted this glorious moment, and it felt just as good as I planned.  But surprisingly, these moments are not why California is monumental. Here’s the hook.

You are on the edge of the world and don’t know whether to go North or South or East, but West isn’t an option.  You fall in love with the landscape, the pool of salt water separating you from Japan, the green hills with tilted trees, the freshness in the air you breathe.  You begin to look at the ocean like a bowl of cereal milk sloshing back and forth.  You wonder what makes the trees tilt towards the hill, and then you ask your Earth Science friend why the trees tilt towards the hill and they say, “That’s just the way it is, man.”  No wonder people from California are stereotyped as being laid back.  Everyone is basically in a bubble of beauty that makes your mind wonder.  It is like crack for your senses.  It feels like love, almost.

The valleys actually never end.  You pick up sand on the beaches and let it fall back down through your fingers until your hand doesn’t really feel the sand anymore.  For some reason “Forever Young” sounds sentimental and you can make a real moment out of it.  Everything feels a little more glamorous, like Arizona iced tea.  You drive past strawberry field pickers and the homeless People’s Park in the same day and realize how many different lives are led in this one strip of land. People migrate to the west coast with expectations, at times, set so high that they are impossible to attain. They search North, South and East, and sometimes even this vast state doesn’t hold the answers to their questions and dreams.

My problem is I want to be able to go West.  As imperial as California is, my crazy ass wants to be back in Colorado.  I have no good reason as to why I didn’t fall in love with this lanky state.  It is safe to say we had more of a short-term relationship.

And that’s okay, without those we really never find our true love anyway.

Image Credit Samantha Decker


ABBY Abby Readey is a nineteen year old curious college student from Boulder, Colorado.  I enjoy finding out what the world has to offer and want to make a difference some day.

About The Author

Lauren Rains is the editor at large of Outdoor Minded Mag. She is struck by wanderlust, and spends most waking hours of her life either exploring the outdoors around the globe or working on various passion projects be it film to microadventures to cooking chili. You can read about her adventures in life, biz and travel on her blog TheMadToLive.com, and catch up with her on Twitter at @LaurRAINS.

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