Some people grow up in a place they love. They graduate high school, move away for college to embark on life as an "adult," and come home to visit for holidays and in between semesters. They come back home to the awesome place they grew up, enjoy their family, reconnect with life-long friends, and get to go to many of the places they did while growing up.
I am lucky in that I did grow up in a beautiful place that I loved very much, but when I left for college, my mom moved to Las Vegas. I am grateful that she moved to Las Vegas because of the incredible friendships and experiences I have had here, but because of it, I have rarely gone back to the O.C. In fact, although I have been on a couple of hurried day trips to various parts of Cali with the youth in recent years, I haven't actually been back to the paradise where I grew up for 7 years...until this week.
Jason had a business trip and would be staying at the Irvine Marriott. How could I resist a free hotel stay? I had an ocean view from my bedroom window as a teenager in Dana Point, yet my children had never even seen the ocean!! I have been so overwhelmed lately. I mean, SO overwhelmed. I almost didn't go because my head felt like it might explode from all the things I had to do. But then I just closed my eyes and thought, "what would mom say?" Immediately I heard her voice in my head saying, "Go!"
I had little time to plan, but I figured it would be worth it, even if I only was able to see one good friend and take my kids to the beach for a little while. I was right! It was so awesome. Everything about being there soothed my soul! I wanted so badly to stay longer ~ my heart literally ached when it was time to leave. Somehow, I felt like my mom was there, soaking in the beauty and enjoying the whole experience right along with me.
I was surprised how at home I felt, even though I moved away 17 years ago! When I was there it felt like I had been gone just a little while, like I belonged there. I had that feeling you get when you see a close friend after years and it's as though no time has passed at all...like being together is the most natural thing in the world.
I felt my mom there, and it made me miss her more once I came home. It was also incredible reconnecting with a few friends...it was comforting to be with people who have known you through multiple stages of your life...something that I guess I missed out on to an extent when my mom moved away. And, I'm sure it doesn't help that I've moved more than 15 times in the past 17 years!
On our way, we stopped in Baker to eat at the Mad Greek where I snapped this pic - aren't they cute?
Tuesday morning we went to visit the Bells...Barbara (in the picture below) was both a seminary teacher and my piano teacher during high school. When I left for college she had just had her first baby - Lauren, the pretty girl in the next picture...
Despite a slight obsession (as evidenced by at least a hundred questions) with the possibility of a tsunami on the California coast, the kids immediately fell in love with the beach...how could they not!?