City Girl Gone Wandering
It dawns on me that in the perpetual motion of the last two weeks I have failed to properly wrap up my experiences in San Diego. So, here they are: the final moments of Transition Week.
On my second to last day in California, my friend and I drove to La Jolla to watch the sun set over the ocean and the city of San Diego. We drove up through the hills, passed the million-dollar mansions, and arrived at an overlook that quieted the spirit.
Unfortunately, it was freezing up there, so we regrouped and decided to race the sun to another location. We arrived at Sunset Cliffs just as the final shades of orange and pink painted the sky.
Even the storms of flies attacking my face could not break the magic of the cliffs that night. What a beautiful place! Surfers braved the cold water in hopes of catching the perfect wave and riding the sunset back to shore. I watched them with eager intensity, jealous of their boards and wet suits. One day, maybe even one day soon, I will finally try surfing.
After the sun had set, we made our to Ocean Beach for some beer and tacos. OB is the type of neighborhood that I expected all of San Diego to be: populated with skateboarding teenagers (and 20-somethings pretending to be teenagers), tourists, frat boys, people dressed in ripped up t-shirts with band names on them. The SoCal stereotype is alive and well, and thriving in Ocean Beach.
The next day was my last in San Diego, so naturally I went to a salon and chopped my hair off. Before I left New York I knew that I wanted a drastic haircut to mark this new chapter. However, time was limited in my final city weeks so I decided to wait until I was in SD. The last day of transition week was the perfect time to transform my look into what I am now calling, “Boho Peasant Chic”. It looked very much like a city-slicker hairdo when I first got it, but my lack of a desire to use a flatiron, and complete refusal to care about my appearance on the islands, has transitioned my fancy city cut into a rambunctious foray into finding delight in the chaos of freedom.
My hair hasn’t been this short since I was a child, and I haven’t worn it continuously curly since I was twelve. It has been such a great change that during my first week in Hawaii I barely recognized myself in the mirror. Now, however, I have grown to love it. It symbolizes the newness of the life I am living, the freshness of simply learning not to care. I haven’t worn makeup in two weeks either. It’s wonderful! Just me, my face, and my hair (my real hair) taking on the world.
After my transformation was complete, I braved San Diego public transit and made my way toward Mission Beach to say hello to the Pacific. Spending my last day in California on the beach has become a tradition for me—I did the same thing when I was in San Francisco last year.
I love the ocean. I love it so much that, if I could, I would crawl inside it and build myself a burrow. This love affair is probably why I have since moved myself to an island, and why I have spent so much time on beaches in the last few weeks. Either way, the ocean fills a part of me that I don’t realize is empty until I am once again wiggling my toes in the sand and listening to the repetitive sound of the tide.
I spent a few hours wandering the seashore, reveling in the fact that, for the first time after such a vacation, I was not actually going home. As the sun began to set, I gazed at the Pacific and thought to myself, I’m going to move to the middle of that tomorrow, okay? Okay! Great! My heart swelled with excitement.
And thus, San Diego Transition Week came to a close. Within a week’s time I went from crying regularly over the thought of leaving everything and everyone I knew, to feeling overwhelmed with pride and joy at the fact that I was actually doing this.
In terms of transitioning between NYC and Hawaii, spending the week in San Diego was probably the best decision I could have made. When I first landed on the islands I described Hawaii to a friend by saying, “It’s as though Southern California and Martha’s Vineyard had a baby on a volcano.” Part of this is because the vegetation (at least some of it) is quite similar—palm trees and the like. But mostly the comparison is cultural. The energy of San Diego is super laid back (everybody is “bro”) and Hawaii takes the chill factor to a whole new level (everybody is “brah”). For me—the formerly tense NYC gal—the extra step down the ladder of chilling-out was highly beneficial. Because of my transition week, I arrived in Hawaii relaxed and stress-free.
As a final note, I want to say thank you to my friend Micah for housing me for a week, and for putting up with my random spurts of combustible emotion. A large part of why the transition went so smoothly was because I left people who I loved in the present to spend time with someone I had come to love in the past. Picking up where we left off, after seeing each other only once in four years, was the best reminder that friendship is eternal. I needed that reminder. I needed to know that I wasn’t actually walking away from the best community of people I have ever known.
One city, to a smaller city, to an island.
And the beat goes on…