A Week In California

I use to tell myself that I’ll go to California once I ________.

The blank kept getting further and further away.

Once I hit a $___k month.

Once Cooper is out of school.

Once I dowhateverthefuckthingthatIallowtobthemarkerforwhichIcandolife.

Until one night I was listening to one of my favorite artists, Dermot Kennedy and decided to check his tour schedule for the year.

One tour date left, and it just so happened to be in LA. There wasn’t much thinking here. I’m spontaneous, and when it feels right in my gut, I 99.9% of the time say yes.

I booked my flight for the next week. Stalked Airbnbs and bought my ticket to the concert.

I wasn’t nervous until the night before. It hadn’t really occurred to me that I would be traveling alone the whole time. Typically I adventure to, or with friends, and this would be the first time that I was leaping into the complete unknown by myself. I curated about 43 versions of being Taken, Liam Neison style though—as one does.

Despite my nerves, I was excited. I knew I would love LA, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would fall in love.

Getting off the plane, and into my uber was a bit spiritual. It’s okay, roll your eyes now so we can continue.

I mean, I had loved NYC so much that I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with LA. I was expecting to fall in lust, to fall in like, to a have an 8th grade crush on LA. Not feel LA in my bones.

Looking up at palm trees instead of skyscrapers made me feel open and new. Not a sadness due to a lack of my familiar, but a breaking open and love for something new. Who knew so much love could be in one place? And of all places the enormity of life, and love could be unraveling, it got to be in my body.

This was all happening in the matter of 30 seconds. So there I was, a bit unsure of my uber would sell me into sex slavery, and feeling so many human emotions, and then I looked to my right and saw a man picking up branches from the ground and throwing them into his truck.

Do you ever have moments where time feels like it stops, but it hasn’t really stopped? You’re just so present that you feel your body happening in life instead of being in your head? That happened. Time didn’t stop but I left my head and it was as if my body teleported into these branches, and I could feel each one of them collapse onto each other.

What do you call love that you happens all at once and is all becoming?

That’s what it was.

In moments like this, I think back to when I was 18, 19, 20 etc and use to imagine what my life would look like if I got the courage to dream beyond my circumstances.

Courage is heart word, did you know this?

Brene Brown says “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.”

My courage in those moments of wonder, even to just speak into the world the life I dreamed, was the catalyst of this trip.

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Which made my dinner at Cafe Gratitude a truly hilarious endeavor. Each menu item there is called something like humble, grateful, beautiful, playful etc. I chose to go here based off of some solid, perfectly postitend IG posts, and upon ordering my coffee to help me stay alive for the concert—the waiter set my drink down and said ‘you are courageous’. I looked up at him and almost with tears in my eyes said ‘thank you SO much’.

LOL. I wasn’t aware that my coffee was called ‘courageous’ and no matter what you order, they say the menu item back to you as mantra of sorts.

Unintentionally, I ate as vegan this week. Which was lovely. Everywhere I went just so happened to be vegan, for the most part. I had so much fun trying new food. An adventure of tastes, so to speak. I ordered bits of everything, everywhere I went.

I spent my days finishing up my book. I prefer to hand write everything, and then transfer it to the computer.

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Writing this book makes my whole body feel alive. It’s art in motion, and I’m really excited for you to have it.

I met up with friends from NYC, which made me feel more at home. I also met up with a friend from Columbus who’d I never met, and we were able to finally meet up in LA because she just moved here. How ironic is that?

On Wednesday I went surfing. I almost didn’t go because the time change fucked me hard. But, I got up and went on my way to this guys house that I found on Airbnb. Which again definitely thought could be a moment to die, but he had over 100 reviews, so I went with it.

At 8am I showed up to his house, and was greeted by his girlfriend. This was a major relief, not that serial killers can’t have girlfriends, but you know, this made me feel 60% better.

She offered me coffee and we talked as they got everything together. She’s a private chef for celebrities in LA, and he’s a photographer/director. Together they do these lessons where she packs vegan meals, and takes pictures, and he teaches.

The first beach we got to the tide was too high, which I learned meant that was a no go for me—so we went to another beach down the way.

He gave me a quick lesson on the beach and said I was ready to go. Mentally I was Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush. I was ready to fuck shit up. Then I had to carry the board into the water, and my fingers fell asleep and I kind of felt like my hand was going to fall off but I went with it because I was not going to let my hand fall off and ruin my waves.

The first 3 waves I ate shit. The most shit one could eat, I’m sure. The waves swallowed me in a spiral of oblivion. Is it weird if I liked it? Notoriously when it comes to sports, I hate when I suck at something and give up. But with surfing, I was excited to go for hours. Each time I fell, I’d ask for feedback and try again.

Then I did it. I stood up, and rode the wave all the way to shore.

I went on to stand up and eat shit all day. We’d go eat a snack, then come back out. Once we had watermelon with chilli powder on it. It was weird tasting, but I was into it. Honestly I actually don’t know if I was into it, but I kept eating it. We set the watermelon down and paddled back out. In an attempt to show off what I had been learning I tried to paddle into the wave the way he taught me. That didn’t work because I was trying to hard and therefore I got sucked into a wave and probably swallowed a jellyfsish in my rumble with the ocean. I had the sweetness of watermelon on my lips, so when the salt hit my mouth it was shocking. Bitter and sweet all at once. I want to tell you that it made me feel more alive, but I don’t have poetic enough words to talk about the sweetness and salt yet. So we’ll leave it here.

My face burnt, and my shoulders were so sore—but I did it. I’m really glad I did too because I feel like I got to share a part of my dads history with him. Surfing was his life, and this felt really important to me to understand more of him and share a new love for me and an old familiar one with him.

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In the midst of all of this, my bestfriend was moving across the country from NYC to San Diego. It was a last min move for her, literally days before deciding. What was going to be a 4 day trip for me, turned into a 7 day trip. I decided to take the train from LA to San diego.

Three hours along the coast, and I could help my friend mend a broken heart. I mean how do you really mend a broken heart? But I could at least be there, and neither of us would have to spend Thanksgiving alone.

Upon getting to the train station, I immediately thought of My best Friends Wedding— remember that scene where Julia follows the love of her life who’s marrying Cameron Diaz to the train station? Anyway, I had a moment, and then walked to where I was supposed to go.

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I met a woman named Marisa while I waited to board the train. She made me belly laugh, and made sure I didn’t get lost. We had small talk while we waited, and then we ended up sitting next to each other. What I thought would be 3 hours of writing and working, turned into 3 hours of Marisa and I joking around, sharing our life stories and trading book recommendations. We talked about the movies that made us cry, and ones we each need to watch and we had a great time.

My bestfriend, Devon, picked me up from the train station and there began the second part of my trip. Waking up the next morning we sought out after Coffee. It was Thanksgiving, but we found a shop open that had an exquisite turmeric situation. By tumeric situation I mean there were like a lot of adaptogens and other things that surely made me the pillar of health this week.

After our coffee we walked to the beach, and the moment we emerged from the path, THE LITERAL MOMENT, a girl stopped running and said “Rachel?”. I shit you not had I not walked out of this path at that exact moment, I wouldn’t have met my internet friend in real life. Kerra stopped her run and what I thought would be a brief chat, turned into a two hour walk down the beach. We met even more friends along our walk and talked about how our serendipitous meeting was surely a gift from the universe guiding us along our path at exactly the right time it needs to be.

Devon and I had long breakfasts, without rush. My favorite. We walked so much my knees to started to ache, and we spent our time intentionally and slowly.

California broadened the lens in which I get to see life. I’m still processing but wanted to share this much with you so far.


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Who knew that a place could make you feel so small—in all the ways you’d want to feel small. So alive, so beautiful and so whole all at once.

That’s all.

Xo

Rachel