California Dreamin’

Making the choice to move to California came pretty easy to me. The last time I was in the house cooped up with my mom for that long was before freshman year.

I have family out here. My aunt, uncle, and two cousins, Matt and Gina. They’re pretty rad. They moved out here in 2007 through a business opportunity. My uncle was a contractor in Vermont and he met these people while doing work at their summer home around 2004.

My cousins were in high school at the time, and my aunt worked in the office at Bennington College. Long story short, the people who owned the summer home found my Uncle Jim to be a pretty awesome guy, so they offered him a job to work and live at their home with his family in California.

I guess you can’t say no to something like that.

They’re very generous about having guests over to their home. In total, I’ve visited my family in California seven times. Each visit felt like its own chapter in a book slowly leading into getting a true feel for what Los Angeles is all about. I came out with my mom and my brother three out of the seven times.

We did regular tourist activities. We visited Hollywood Boulevard, went to Santa Monica Beach, Disneyland, Sea World, Universal Studios, and to Dodger games. It just felt like vacation to a fantasyland.

The last three times have all been unique in their own way. I flew out alone every time. My first time alone I was 15, and we still did some regular tourist things, but they felt different. I felt myself building a fondness for the lifestyle out here. I think here is where I felt my first sense of individuality that I still carry today.

In my small town in Vermont, you feel the semipolitical constraints from the natives that drives you to act a certain way, but not your own way.

My second time alone out here I was mostly under my cousins’ supervision. They moved out here the year that the youngest graduated high school, so they know a thing or two about the area. They showed me around, attempting to give me a true feel for what it really is out here.

I was too glued to my phone to make anything out of it.

The third time, I think, was the most unique prior to this time.

It’s when I started to pay attention. I did some really cool stuff. I brought my skateboard out here and skated at a park that I used to see all over my Instagram feed.

It brought it to life. Not every form of media that you see is make believe.

My cousin bought me a cruiser during that trip too. We skated the bike path from Santa Monica beach all the way to Venice beach. Thank you, Matt, for contributing to one of my most meaningful life experiences.

This time has its own effect. I’m high on a one-way ticket to California. I’m grown. I have some knowledge to work with. I’ve seen this situation in a new light. This is the land for opportunity. I didn’t come out here to be a tourist. I came out here to see what it’s like to live here.

I didn’t leave Vermont 3,000 miles behind me so I could go to Disneyland, I did it because I couldn’t say no to an opportunity like this. I know this sounds cliché, but this should be a mind-opening experience for me. I think it could be for anyone. An experience like this will totally wipe a small-town lifestyle from a person. Think about it. Have you met anyone from your hometown who lived in a city and came back the exactly the same?

Living amongst others is quite different from living with them. There’s an endless amount of room to grow out here, and I tend to take advantage of that.

Anyway, so far so good. The flight was sketchy because it was full of potential coronavirus patients, but I was in and out of that plane in no time with a mask and a shield on my face. I’m still adjusting to the time zone as we speak.

The only downside is that my classes and due dates are three hours earlier than they are at home. I feel less pressure out here, though. There’s no rush to go do anything because everything is a potential hazard, and I’m just fine with that. I just like being here. It’s starting to feel like home.

Although, last week my cousin did take me to the Tesla dealership so he could take one for a test drive. If you ever have that opportunity, take it. It’s like riding in a spaceship. Whenever we decide to get out of the house, my cousin and I do go on hikes in the hills. We wear masks for two reasons, the coronavirus, and the smoke.

Our usual hike overlooks downtown on one side, and the coast on the other. I’ve noticed how much dryer everything is out here while on my hikes. The bushes are dried up and prickly, and the hillsides are flowing with sand. My first time looking over everything from up there was mind bending. I couldn’t see the base of the skyscrapers, but only the pointy peaks cracking through the thick smoke from the wildfires near here.

I couldn’t even see the water past the coast either. It was like looking through a window of a plane while you’re flying through a cloud. Well, it wasn’t that extreme, but you get the point. It was thinner than that.

My uncle is a big hunter, and he has some game cameras out in the woods near where the Bobcat Fire started. We’re all hoping they’re okay so we can see how the wildlife is reacting to this fiery move by mother nature.

I’m very thankful for my family out here. They’re opening doors for me while walking through the hallways of life. I’m thankful for my friends and family at home for supporting me while making this decision, too. I hope to come home with some good grades, and a greater sense of who I am. But for now, I’ve got to get ready to watch the Laker game.

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