This past week I was vacationing out West and spent several Fantastic days with my Sister and my three nephews in Los Angeles. We grew up in the area and wanted to show the kids Universal Studios and Hollywood and the beach and other fun places we went to when we were their age.
The weather was spectacular for February, even by Southern California standards. My gait became bouncier, my attitude became friendlier, my muscles felt loosey-goosey.
Both my Sister and I left California long ago, but we kept remarking how deeply familiar it felt to be back. Everything looked “so California” to us. The trees, the Freeways , the color of the sky, the light of the sun.
As we drove around, the soundtrack of our youth played on the radio, as if the pre-programmed station on the rental car knew us personally and wanted to reminisce with us.
I know this place to my core. Oh yeah, I thought, this feels natural. I have a sunny disposition but sometimes it can get buried under the snow and hardiness of the Northeast.
Hard work and productivity are paramount in the Northeast. It makes sense with the climate. You have to hustle and bustle to keep warm in the winter. It makes sense with the culture. You have to do your best and be excellent to succeed and there is a very high level of excellence in the air.
I adore that culture. It is my chosen home and I am inspired by it. It motivates me and invites the best of me to the surface, nourishing my wholeness.
And yet, being in California I felt nourished in a different way. Like my spirit got a great big hug of approval and was told to go out and play.
I was scheduled to fly home on Sunday morning. There were blizzard-like conditions brewing back East and my airline offered to waive any change fees if I chose to rebook to a later date. Hmmm…
The Northeasterner in me whispered: Go home, you already missed a week of work, it will be cold and windy, but you can handle it. If the flight gets cancelled, it gets cancelled. At least you did the responsible thing by trying to get back.
The California girl whispered: If you get stuck at the airport knowing your Sister and the boys are still having fun in the sun, you will kick yourself. Plus, it is gorgeous here. It will be zero degrees back home. Literally. There is a blizzard. Stay here and be with your family one more day!
I decided to risk it and get back to work. It was the right thing to do. I packed my suitcase and ordered my taxi.
And then I changed my mind.
Instead I spent Sunday at Knott’s Berry Farm, a place my sister and I visited many times as youngsters. We rode rides, we walked around, we soaked up old memories and made new ones. I felt a pang of guilt and checked my scheduled flight to see if it took off. It did. Uh-Oh, did I make a mistake?
Our final ride of the day was “Ghost Rider” one of the tallest wooden roller coasters in the World. The car tracked slowly up a looong incline and at the top we were treated to a panoramic view: sun and palm trees and the vast sky all around. I felt like I could see forever. I felt like I could breathe easier and more deeply than I had in months.
We plummeted down the hill at top speed. My stomach ended up in my throat. It was exhilarating. Up and down, speeding around corners, sharing the ride of a lifetime with four of the most precious, cherished people in my World.
That evening, driving on the 101 at sunset, Hotel California began to play on the radio. The sky was beautiful and I said: “I feel like we are driving right into the Album cover.” I swear it looked just like this (only better):
It was a day to remember. To miss it would have been a shame.
Sometimes the California girl knows best.