On Friday, I mentioned I would be hiking for my birthday and I received all sorts of texts and calls asking me: what? where? you? Yes, me. I don’t know what is so strange about it….just because I have never hiked before. “Never?” Alissa asked me.
I told her: “I’m sure that I walked through nature before but never with the purpose of hiking.”
Whatever. I definitely plan on getting Alissa back later in the week with a whole new segment to this blog called “California Girls.” It’s going to just be quotes that only girls born and raised in California would ever say. (Example: Isn’t there like a river in Chicago? Yes but I think you’re talking about Lake Michigan. So when you’re at the lake, is there sand? Yes, there is sand. So, do you call it the beach? Yes, what else would you call it? *hysterical laughter* There’s sand and water and waves so what would you call it? *laughs hysterically*) Tip of the iceberg, people.
Nonetheless, it has become tradition that Lis and I do something outside the city for my birthday. We are Lucy and Ethel. We are Thelma and Louise. We are…dumb and dumber. So yes, this year: we hiked.
We went up these hills and on the other side found the ocean. I’ll show you that later in the week, along with some California Girl quotes.
I took a picture of this because LITERALLY in the Bay Area, dogs are in the supermarket, dogs are next to me in restaurants but we are outside in nature and no dogs allowed. Explain this to me. ??????
I still have these moments where I cannot believe I live here. The hills alone are shocking to a girl from Illinois (not a joke) and when you add in the beach and water and cliffs…It’s surreal and I don’t know if it ever stops being surreal.
I look at this photograph and I can’t believe that I am a part of this, that this isn’t a postcard.
It’s awfully hard to get it through my thick skull that this is my second birthday spent on the shore of the pacific ocean.
I’m taking a break in the regularly scheduled Christmas programming to talk about our day trip to Santa Monica a few weeks ago. Naturally, this had my aunt and I singing Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do.” Which brought us to a profound discussion of Sheryl’s “If it makes you Happy.”
I sang it for the car. They loved that.
“You know, Auntie Laura, that song, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad? That song is a lie, man. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. A codependent relationship? Ummmmmm. It can be that bad. If drinking too much makes you happy? Drugs? It can be that bad. What if–”
And then the car told me to be quiet.
Votes were split on Santa Monica (okay, maybe not split…maybe just one person didn’t love it…I’ll give you a hint–it was Nonna) but most of us loved it.
This little girl LOVED it because there was basically a playground at the beach. Considering she loves to jump off of anything and as soon as we got to the baggage claim, she asked when we were going to the beach, she was in her glory.
This sums up a lot of things. Number one, Ava has an extreme need to be a daredevil. She didn’t want to hold her mom’s hand; she wants to jump off of everything. And number two, everyone needed pictures on their iPhones. My aunt and nonna finally got iPhones before the trip. They were naysayers about getting new phones but then became a little bit obsessed.
She’s getting so big. Her little brain is thinking, right in this moment, how can I jump from the highest point here?
“Mom, Mom! Let me go. I can do it.”–A quote repeated by Ava many times. Ava could have spent her life here but we eventually moved on to the pier.
These two crack me up together. I especially love when Ava bosses Joe around and Joe goes out of his way to drive her crazy and then they just end up laughing.
Some bossing around was taking place here. She was teaching him how to be a pirate.
Hilarious to me. More importantly to me, it is amazing to see how we are being knitted together as siblings and how even with the age differences between us, we still act as three siblings would with only two years separating them. Ava picks sides. Joe and I tease Ava. And all of this brings such joy to me and such thankfulness because God is good and so much smarter than we are. We are siblings. Period. Done.
Like Joe and I trying to win something for Ava. Joe won and Ava and Joe liked to tease me about it. “Nina,” Ava said. “You did not win. Joey won the game for me.”
I felt like we were at the movie version of what a carnival should be as we walked along the pier.
I’m not flipping this picture because this is how Ava took it with my camera (while it was still around my neck.)
Please look at her face. She will make a playground of anything.
Look at just the pure wonderment in Ava’s eyes. And in Nonna’s, too.
The colors, the sounds, the smell of funnel cake. It was such fun with a mix up of people that I would have never expected two years ago–Joe, Ava, Karen, Nonna, Auntie Laura, and me.
We watched the most gorgeous sunset before we went to meet Dad.
It was one of those perfect days, really…Until my dad forgot his iPad where we ate. But then again, the iPad was recovered. So I guess, it was a perfect. Adventures with this groups is crazy–so many ages, so many personalities. But I look at these photographs and think: that was magical.
I didn’t always think so. After putting down a deposit down at NYU and then backing out because of the massive tuition, I always pictured myself in Manhattan. And I do love the East Coast. But after living in California, all things I thought I wouldn’t like about California (crazy peace signs, hippies, and all that jazz) have paled in comparison to all the delightful surprises–from In-n-Out Burgers to simply driving down the freeway. Beauty is everywhere. And yes, in San Francisco, I do have to pay ten cents if I want a bag from any store, but I don’t care (I mean, I do care. But when I look at these pictures it is hard to care.).
If you ask me, from now on my advice will always be the same: California is always a good idea.
For my twenty fifth birthday (over six months ago), my friend, Lis, took me on an adventure. She planned the whole thing and she drove (what a good friend). After having a homeless man spit on me, and probably feeling badly because he was aiming at her, she decided I needed to get out of the city and experience more “California” and a little less “San Francisco.” (Yes, he really did spit on me.)
And away we go…
I didn’t really know where we were going except that involved oysters. However, first, we communed with nature, the way that California Girls do.
Bob the Bird
I just want to give you a little fashion advice. Cheetah flats are appropriate for any and all occasions. Especially adventures.
I’ve only ever been to warm beaches where I read and tan (burn) and reapply sunscreen every hour but this beach was cold. Lis, who like most Californians, finds 60 degree weather unbearable, squealed as the wind blew our hair every which way. But I love Chicago fall weather and this felt like that weather was transplanted to a beach. I loved it!We stopped off at a little store to get some fancy waters, crackers, and cheese before making our way to Hog Island Oyster company, the best Oysters you can find in Northern California. They harvest and sell them. They were delicious and once again, the scenery was breathtaking.
Definitely worth the drive.
The view…It’s pretty hard to take an ugly photograph here (see, what I did there?)
It was a quiet celebration between two friends who met through the strangest of circumstances (another blog post; don’t worry, I keep a list) and have learned a lot from one another. In a year and a half, we’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of each other which, weirdly, is pretty special. It’s not like we show our crazy side to just anyone, right? But because both of us have such fast paced jobs, this birthday celebration was perfection. It also felt like a friendship celebration (or a friendenaisnce…any Friends fans in the house?) and a breather. We’d made it. We’d both just been promoted. Take a breath and eat an oyster, folks.
Lissy Lou Who
Just a stop on the side of the road
Where I had my major realization
On this trip, while Lis drove through the winding roads and I gazed at the rolling green hills and the cliffs overlooking the ocean, I experienced a moment of pure clarity. I slugged Lis in the arm. “I finally get it!” I screamed because the windows were down and I had to be loud.
“Get what?” she yelled back.
Have you ever seen those commercials for cheese and milk that end with “Cows are happier in California”? I ended up going to a pure midwest school and this commercial angered some folks. Their cows aren’t any different than our cows, the midwestern farmers cried, and what does happiness have to do with milk and cheese? Those hoity-toity Californians.
No, no, no, Midwestern Farmers. I am here to tell you something. As I drove through these hills, I spied some cows grazing on a green hill overlooking the ocean in February, and the epiphany shot through me like lightening.
“Cows REALLY ARE happier in California!” I yelled at Lis (who never saw the commercial.) “They really, really are!”