Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer wish list

I'm probably getting ahead of myself, what with having two more days at the office this week, but in the spirit of the holidays - and by holidays I mean the whole of summer vacation - I think it's time for me to make a wish list.

This summer most (actually, virtually all) of my time has been compromised. Going to work five days a week and having a long commute in either direction doesn't just mean I'm busy during the day, it means I can't do anything at night. If I do, I don't get enough sleep. If I don't get enough sleep, I wake up exhausted. If I wake up exhausted my drive downtown is difficult. And as you know, Murphy's Law is absolutely 100 percent real. That's what it feels like at 7 am in the morning and 5 pm in the evening anyway.

But in a few days I will be free to roam southern California (within reason, I'm still a hermit/homebody most of the time) as I please. And there are a few things in this area of the world - my childhood home - that I just haven't had the opportunity to enjoy this summer. That must change. This is what and hopefully how:

Homebody becomes beachbody

The beach makes me think of Bluth Frozen Bananas for some reason.
 Even when I'm not busy going to work every day, I have a tendency to pretend that being confined to a house is normal behavior. While other kids are getting out and partying it up, I prefer to sit inside and catch up on my television or watch a new movie on Netflix Instant. This isn't so bad, actually. There's excellent air conditioning, which is a lifesaver on a hot summer day in the Golden State.

But it disturbs me ever-so-slightly that I have been in California for two months now and my only encounter with the Pacific Ocean so far has been from a car window on the 5 freeway.

When I am in Chicago, much of my time is spent looking at the water. My dorm for the past two years has stood less than a five minute walk from Lake Michigan. My friend Dana and I would often take walks along the Lakefill of our school, sitting on the rocks lining the water and talking about everything and anything.

Maybe it's the proximity that has me going to the "beach" of the North Shore so regularly versus the comparative in California, which amounts to a 15-30 minute drive either way just to get to the ocean. It can be a bit daunting to make the drive, especially if you don't have someone to go along with you.

So I need beach buddies. Any takers?

Take me away

Okay, so I guess Florida has beaches too.
The past two summers for me have been filled with great vacations. The summer after I graduated from high school, my literal first step was onto a plane headed for Narita Airport in Japan. I explored the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Kamakura and Odawara in eastern Japan with my grandma, learning about my culture and meeting family members I'd never even knew existed.

The following summer I made my way to London for the fourth time, traveling around the city and feeling at home once again on vacation there with my dad.

So two summers with international vacations, and then what do I get this year? Work, work and more work.

That being said, my dad has planned a grand trip after my internship is over. And by grand I mean to Florida. And by Florida I mean to the area around West Palm Beach. And by the area around West Palm Beach, I mean the land of gold Cadillacs and elderly people wading in heated pools. This is not prime vacation territory. Before the end of the summer - which admittedly will be the biggest vacation of the year considering I'll be going abroad for three months for school - I'd like to be able to take some trip more exciting than the one to the hot muggy pastel pink and green land of my grandparents. Maybe San Francisco?

Fair-est one of all

Next to beaches in simplicity as well as necessity of companions are the fairs and events going on in southern California during the summer months. If we're talking specifics, I'm referencing the Orange County Fair and the Sawdust Festival - two events I have frequented in the past, but haven't had the chance to attend this summer (or last summer, come to think of it).

These are great traditions of this state. And they're not rinky-dink affairs, either. They're examples of why California is more than just its all-year-round sun and smog-filled highways. There is culture and excitement here too. You just have to know where to look.

Los Angeles County is also known for its summer events. But because I am an OC kind of a girl, I feel a particular allegiance to the summer events of "my people." I just need to get out to them, somehow. But again, I need friends. Why don't I have friends? Answer: They're all working this summer, just like I am.

You knew it would come to this

Pretty twinkly lights.
There is one thing that I haven't forgotten about this summer. One thing that stands out as the most important part of living in southern California. The raison d'etre that I never forget when I return to this state. And you knew I would get there:


So far this summer, I've probably only missed one or two weeks. Aside from those, I've gone to the park every weekend and some weekdays with my father, if only to have the chance to stroll around and marvel at the twinkly lights.

If it wasn't for Disneyland, I don't think I'd have any reason to want to live in southern California. The lack of the Happiest Place on Earth would probably result in me forceably relocating all of my relatives to some other state. It would be the only logical choice.

I want to take advantage of my Disney time while I have it. Because I don't plan on living in this area of the world when I am older, these are my prime theme park visiting years. And they're not to go to waste.

So I guess I haven't failed this summer, exactly. Even though I've taken a big bite out of my time with work, I've also made time for what's most important to me. And soon I'll be making time for even more of what's important. Just holding out for two more days.

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