Drunk in the airport, cucumber gimlets swimming in my gut, the impossibly full moon reflecting in the terminal glass, I think “Here we go again. Scotland part 2…at least the soundtrack is better”. The is PA is reading my mind, playing my alt-rock favorites: Muse, U2, Strumbellas, Grouplove, Lucius, Twentyone pilots (one of only two songs I like from them) as well as the one good song from Kings of Leon (Molly’s Chambers). I force myself to put down my phone, look up and make eye contact with strangers (at least the ones who aren’t buried in their own phones). I want to start a conversation with someone but their faces don’t process and I suspect anyone looking at me sees a woman lost.
Well, if you’re not going to make friends then read, I tell myself, picking up the Tim Robbins book a blind date recommended but now 50 pages deep, I’m put off by all the pussy talk and sick of hearing about this chick’s giant thumbs. I want to text someone. I want to text him. To tell him I’m going to his old stomping grounds in California find my own damned seaglass and that he cant have every country song…
My trip to the Pacific Coast was everything that my trip to Scotland wasn’t: Clear and peaceful. I went swing dancing in San Diego, watched F18’s and Seahawks show off against the backdrop of the setting sun on Coronado Island, tried In-N-Out burger to see what the fuss was about (give me Five Guys anytime), made a “pie run” on a crotch rocket through the winding hills to Julien (and popped a wheelie in there along the way), and dropped my bag in the spare bedroom of a friend’s house on Camp Pendleton and headed north, hugging the coast on the PCH (Hwy 1) through the OC, Santa Monica, Malibu…well, the intent was to spend time in Big Sur but I only made it as far as the southernmost tip, around Cambria and the Hearst Castle. From there, Hwy 1 was closed due to rock and mud slides. It rarely rains in CA but I did pick the “rainy season” I suppose. My heart sank but I shook it off almost immediately, promising to return, maybe later this year, to spend quality time exploring the forest. I headed south again along the coast, stopping often to take in the view or explore a trail or cove. I only found one piece of white-ish sea glass, which admitted was a mission this trip as the Flake had collected several lovely pieces for me a few months earlier which he failed to bring or send (I’m still holding strong, by the way. Missing him daily but not enough to pick at that wound).
I marveled at the changing geography: green mountains and forest that resembled Scotland (had the weather been clear) turning into mountains of smooth rock all running alongside cliffs of cold, cold ocean. Elephant seals quietly swam and slept along the shore in the north while their smaller cousins barked and basked on the southern coast.
I caught up with two girlfriends from my Army days with whom I shared a common age and unfortunate history of bad romantic choices. Both had moved to the Pacific Coast to “start over” and within a week or two of going back online to meet people, had met their husbands. One is now married to a young Marine and the other to a Jewish lawyer. It gives me hope and frankly, gets me thinking again about a piece of advice the Millionaire Matchmaker once made: If we are willing to move to improve our professional situations, why wouldn’t we move to improve something as important as our love life? Moving might just improve my odds of meeting someone decent. And the people did seem decent there. Relaxed smiles and not afraid to make eye contact. Perhaps there’s a legal weed joke in there somewhere but I was pleasantly surprised by the laid back culture.
In 2014, after my last trip to the ‘Stan, I added San Diego, sight unseen, to my short list of places I might leaving the Gulf coast for. Now that I’ve seen it, it is at the top of the list. One of the acquaintances I visited who had moved from Florida to the PC several years ago put it in perspective: “I would rather be broke in San Diego than rich anywhere else”. And it IS expensive! With California charging $13 for a $6 bottle of red, eating at least a third of resident’s paychecks in taxes, and the only affordable living being across the border in Mexico, I figured I would have to not only downsize my household but earn at least $60k roughly just to scrape by in that area. Maybe after I finish my MBA, I’ll move to Ocean Beach next to the dog park or Oceanside where I can watch the beautiful boys stripping out of their wet suits and remind myself “Dontstaredontbecreepydontstaredontbecreepydontstaredontbecreepy…”
But I “get” my friend’s sentiment now. The expense is worth it. I wasn’t depressed, not once. Unlike Scotland, I enjoyed even the days alone with my own company. The negative inner demon was silent as I was too busy trying to recall high school Spanish to translate local names. And when out of signal range, there was a soundtrack playing in my head with Tom Petty singing about the vampires on Ventura Boulevard, Courntey Love singing Malibu, Everclear singing Santa Monica, Bugs Bunny singing about the swallows coming back to Capistrano…
I’m going to try and go back before the year is out.