Whoa. I can hardly believe that we have already been living in California for a month and a half now. SO many things have happened in just a month and a half! I have been meaning to write since we got here and just haven’t quite found the time to do so yet (but I update Instagram frequently with #stltosocal adventure updates so feel free to follow me there!) I started my job out here with an amazing University of California school a week after we arrived. So thankful for the way that God has provided for us on this journey. There are definite reasons as to why we are here. We’ve both been busy with our jobs and spending any and all free time exploring all things Southern California. And let me tell you. There is so much to explore in Southern California. We still haven’t quite finished unpacking yet either, but when you’re across the country in a brand new place exploring so many brand new things, that tends to fall lower on the list, even for the perfectionist. Enjoying what we can of this adventure is what’s most important right now. (I never even got to share our full travel story with you, but we left the day after New Year’s Day, drove two very long days across the country with the dogs, waited two weeks for all of our belongings to arrive and are still trying to get settled in, but hey, it’s all a part of this adventure, and it’s teaching me to let go of the things that aren’t always in my control.)
So, now to the important stuff. Everyone wants to know about California. It’s definitely quite the change from St. Louis, I will say that. It’s amazing out here, yet so different in so many ways. But do I miss home? Oh yes. The Midwest is absolutely home, and always will be so if you’re asking whether or not we will be back, the answer is definitely yes. While I don’t want to ‘plan’ too much too far ahead (and like I’ve said before, this was never particularly in our ‘plan’ either, as our plans aren’t always ours), I do know that at some point, that is definitely where we want to be. But for today? This is a fun adventure that we fully intend to take full advantage of.
It’s only been a little over a month, so this will change as time goes on, but in this short period of time we have already learned quite a bit about this state. The one thing that I tell just about everyone here is that I feel like California is its own country. It’s just so different and strange in a lot of ways; this state has a lot of its own quirks that I don’t fully understand, and I’m not sure that I ever will, but maybe I will start to more so as time goes on, but I’m pretty sure I will forever hold onto my Midwest ways. But a couple of thoughts right off the bat:
1. Traffic. Is. Horrible. We’re in Orange County, so we thought that maybe being a little south of LA meant that traffic would be less frequent. Wrong. A drive to work in the morning that should take me no more than 15 minutes takes an hour. Or more. I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that people spend so much of their lives sitting in traffic here. I don’t love that. The plus side, though, is that I use my commute to either A.) listen to podcasts, B.) listen to sermons from the Journey or C.) call my mom and dad and other family and friends so at least I am able to put all of my car time to good use.
2. I don’t see Cardinals anything anywhere like I’m so used to at home. I LOVE our Cardinals. They are of course not so well loved around here. I have spotted a couple of STL Cards license plate covers since we’ve arrived though (and I get ridiculously excited when I do!!), and I recently added a STL sticker to my car. I have so much pride over that team and refuse to ever let that go.
3. There is quite a mix of people here who are either born and raised SoCal/Orange County or who are transplants from other cities. When I meet someone who is from across the country, I instantly want to become their best friend. Everywhere I go I also find it necessary to tell everyone around me that I’m from the Midwest (not sure if I’ll ever stop sharing this fact with strangers during our time here). What I’ve quickly learned, though, (and no, I am not speaking for everyone here) is that many of the people who are born and raised here seem to take all of amazingness that surrounds them for granted, and I don’t want that to become me. Sure, there are things that are bothersome like the traffic and the higher gas prices and other little California quirks that I’m sure I will at some point share, but the fact that I drive to work and see snowcapped mountains in my rearview mirror or the fact that I can drive 5 minutes away during lunch and stare at the ocean is so surreal to me. If you know me you know my love for all things city (and yes, I am longing for that I will not lie, but luckily LA is so close), but the beauty of God’s creations that are right in front of us, in conjunction with this amazing weather, are things that I never want to lose sight of. It’s snowing back home, and here I am at the beach after church then having iced coffee outside in 75+ degree sunshine. I don’t even feel like I deserve this so I don’t want to become one who complains at 60 degrees or who sits inside during lunch or on the weekends when there’s so much to go see and do.
I’m excited to see where this adventure takes us. While I sit here with a million and one ideas and visions and dreams and goals in my mind (I swear my brain never shuts off!), I still want to work to enjoy each and every day and take this all in. Our first month and a half here has gone by so quickly, but we’ve already done so much like explore LA, hike Peter’s Canyon, visit several beaches (and even take the dogs to the beach!), visit San Diego, enjoy the Farmer’s Markets in February and so much more. So yes, although I’m currently sitting outside writing, a piece of me misses St. Louis (and of course a huge piece of me misses my family and friends) and maybe even a little bit of the snow (gasp!), but this is us today, and it’s pretty incredible. There is so much more to experience, and this is what life is all about. I think that there is something to be said about experiencing an environment and a culture so incredibly different than what we’re used to.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
Here’s to exploring and adventure. But don’t worry, as much as I love visiting and exploring other places, the Midwest is definitely still the best. But for today, California is pretty amazing too.