While traveling in Southern California for work last week, I found myself in my old stomping grounds of Newport Beach. I parked on 35th and Balboa Boulevard, three blocks from the house I once lived in, and a block from the basketball courts that I had spent so many hundreds of hours at.
I walked over to the beach and went for a 5 mile run along the boardwalk, dodging foo-foo dogs and bikini-clad roller-bladers. Fog rolled in from the ocean, cooling the air, and driving the bikini girls back inside. Conditioned by a few years of Bay Area living, the weather was pleasant to me. I finished the run with a sprint over the last few blocks, legs and lungs burning from a few weeks of alcohol saturation and inactivity.
I cooled off by jumping in the ocean, and my contempt for the bikini girls vanished. The water was cold. I dunked my head twice in the on-coming waves, and then made a quick exit, trading the salt from my sweat for the salt of the Pacific.
I dried off and made a short drive to one of my favorite places, Alta Cafe. I had a chai tea, a tuna melt, and then a slice of the best carrot cake in the world. All of these different activities brought back warm memories. Orange County had been good to me. While it made me a bit nostalgic, I feel no desire to move back. At least not to Orange County, that is. I am considering a move back to Southern California, but a return to Orange County is not in the cards. Everything seems small, quiet, suburban after downtown San Francisco.
On top of that, moving back would feel like I am going backwards. The times I have grown the most is when my life and travels have brought me to new and diverse places, away from the familiar. I want to continue that pattern.