I was born in San Diego, and spent a good portion of my younger years soaking up the SoCal sun. I'm a California girl through and through. And while I've lived and loved lot of different places, I feel very much myself when I go back for a visit. Like time has preserved all the good bits.
Even when years pass between visits, I reacclimate rather seamlessly. I am unruffled by the traffic and unfazed by the cultural differences. Mario's company is based in the greater San Diego area, so there has always been a very real possibility of us moving back there one day. In fact, if he decides to advance further up the chain in his current company, a move to the corporate headquarters is more likely than not. And while we aren't going anywhere in the next several years, it is something I think about when I visit family in The Golden State. I find myself pondering questions like What part of the city would we live in? [La Jolla!] and What kind of dwelling? [Beachside bungalow!].
Going back to where you came from can be so insightful. I see so much of myself in my aunts and grandmother. I learn things about my family history I never knew as a child. Adulthood provides a fresh perspective on the people and places that make us who we are. It's amazing how many personality traits, habits, and interests we share. For instance, there is a funny little saying I've used for years and years, with no insight into where it came from, and I just learned it is something my aunts used to say to my grandma when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I am endlessly fascinated by the whole nature versus nurture aspect of who we become.
This recent visit provided many revelations: reminding me of those little (and big) things I adore about my kin, how diverse (and similar) our personalities are, and where I picked up some of my more curious tenancies. One thing I know for sure, I can absolutely, unapologetically be myself with them. Crude humor and all. I feel so loved in their presence, for which I am forever grateful.
Some of the thoughts + observations I had during my recent visit to SD:
One thing I associate with my grandma is crossword puzzles. They were always (and still are) scattered around her house. Not the easy ones. Oh, no. She still does the New York Times Crossword every week. In pen. I can't do that and I'm allegedly in my prime.
Lists. Here, there and everywhere. I always have at least two lists going at any given time, and Mario is often perturbed by the piles of business cards, papers, catalogs, and notes to myself that get piled on the kitchen island. I feel best when things are written down in list format. Upon walking into my aunt's house and spying her counter, I instantly saw myself reflected in her "organized chaos".
I stumbled upon this Pyrex bowl set in my grandma's kitchen cabinet. In mint condition, despite the fact that she likely bought it new in the 60s or 70s and uses them like you would any old set of bowls. I resisted the urge to slip them into my suitcase, and left knowing where I likely inherited my obsession with vintage Pyrex. Grandma for the win (again).
It's official: my love of succulents has become pathological. While stopping by the grocery store next door to my grandma's hospital, I spied this fuzzy little critter and nabbed it. Only later did I realize I was in California and was taking a plane home. Uh, whoops. But I went for it. I sealed it in a Ziploc and stuffed it in my bag. It now resides on my bedroom windowsill and is only slightly worse for the wear. I also took fifty hundred photos of succulents in the ground in the few short days I was there. (Succulents are abundant in SoCal. I have more succulents than surface areas to put them, yet I can't stop bringing more home. Coincidence? I think not.) (Also, it's contagious. Or genetic. Kiddo's bedroom windowsill is brimming with several friendly varieties of cacti.) Is there a 12-step program for plant addiction?
Legal pads. So many legal pads. Upon opening this drawer in my grandma's office, I came to understand why I've always lived under the belief that one can never have too many. (There is currently one in my car, one in my purse, two on the kitchen counter, and two in my computer bag.) If it's written on a legal pad, it's more likely to get accomplished. Truth.
Also, I want to give a shout-out to the person who invented the mini legal pad. You're a genius.
I like to play fast and loose with my luggage, I've come to realize. When in Vermont I picked up a four-pack of what is reputed to be the best beer in the country (the world, even?). The lovely people at TSA treated my suitcase like a punching bag and, despite never making it into the air due to a flight cancellation, managed to break a hole in one of the cans. I got to the hotel after a long day to find all my remaining clean laundry soaked in beer. And I was 3500 miles away from home.
No one ever accused me of being sensible, so when Mario requested I bring home some of his favorite peanut butter stout (?!), I thought Why stop at just one? and bought two 22 ounce glass bottles. (So many things could go wrong in this scenario, no?) I wrapped those bad boys in my dirties and tied each in their own grocery bag. TSA, again for the win, ripped the bags open while
rifling through inspecting my bag and just threw them back in there all willy nilly. The beer gods were shining down on us, because they both made it home in one piece. It should also be noted that I have transported a variety of things in my suitcase during the course of our relationship, including (but not limited to) a Philly Cheesesteak with all the fixin's from a sandwich shop in Bozeman, Montana. I'm a really good wife.
I apparently only need one pair of shoes per season. (I wish I'd learned that little tidbit about myself before acquiring a rather large and superfluous flip-flop collection.) My cousin pointed out that all of my Instagram foot photos (I'm so cliché) for the last few months have featured my Birks. Last fall, it was all Bucketfeet slip-ons all the time. And despite packing several pairs of shoes on all my recent trips, I tended to only wear one pair for the duration, depending on the weather. If it's over 60 degrees and (mostly) dry, my feet get to enjoy the open air. (Also, with the exception of my workout shoes, I tend to favor lace-free varieties. Fascinating information, I know.)
I could eat Mexican food every day for the rest of my life and be totally satisfied. I'd also weigh 500 pounds (35.7 stone for you Brits), but it would be worth it. Taquitos are my life. Also, I don't particularly care for soda, sweetened beverages, or creamsicles, but I must have one Orange Bang every time I visit SD. You should, too. (P.S. I'm grateful every single day that I didn't get that gene that makes cilantro taste like soap. I'm not sure I could have survived such an affliction.)
Also, despite never having lived in California, Kiddo looks and acts the part. When offered a snack while out and about town, all kids opt for an avocado...to eat in the car...with a spoon. Right? I thought so. (He is definitely his mother's son. Genetics strike again.)
Are any of you from SoCal and get it? Or have quirky traits your family bestowed upon you? Tell me. Make me feel normal. Neurosis loves company.