California Dreamin’

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While traveling, I often experience what I like to call arrival depression, which is a made up term. I tend to be a tad dramatic. Arrival depression, happens due to the stress of travel, many hours on a plane, followed by long train rides and to top it all, heavy luggage. I go through this whenever I arrive in a new city. The worst case of arrival depression happened while arriving in San Francisco. After that, I decided to never again have an evening arrival because I’m one of those people who functions better in the morning. I picked up my luggage and considered taking a cab, instead I got on the BART. And I was on my way to Downtown San Francisco.

The BART ride took longer than it should have and the number of stops seemed endless. The elevator getting out of the BART smelled like four-weeks old urine and a suspicious character got in with me. By the time I emerged from the urine capsule, it was already dark. The streets didn’t look like the map and there was so much construction happening I didn’t know if I was going the right way. I turned on my map, and it was so loud, people within a ten-foot radius knew I was lost.

After checking into my lovely hotel and washing my face, arrival depression faded and the magic of travel put on its walking shoes. Next thing I knew, I was lunging up steep hills looking for a place to eat Dim Sum. Spiraling my way up Lombard Street, and getting lost on my way to Fisherman’s Wharf. Listening to the chants and arguments of the Sea Lions at Pier 39 and then looking for the best chowder in the Bay Area.  I felt the breeze of the Bay on my face while on a boat tour, passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, and got a close look of Alcatraz.  After the fog faded, I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, and felt the subtle tremor of the bridge as passing vehicles went by.

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Prior to San Francisco, I made my yearly stop in Orange County to visit my good friend Krysten and her family. I would say that California is one of my favorite places and I feel most at home. I felt a sense of longing for the people who have taken me in, and welcomed me into their family. Once upon a time in 2015, I travelled to Orange County for the first time to visit a pregnant Krysten. Fast-forward a year later, Krysten and Steve were officially parents to a baby boy who stole my heart.

It wasn’t foreign to me that she had a baby, but it was a completely different thing to see her in person. When I watched Krysten’s car pull up at the airport, the anticipation took over me. She pulled over and got out to hug me. After our greeting exchange she said, “Do you want to meet Parker?” He was tiny in his car seat, though not a little baby anymore, fine blonde hair and his mom’s nose. He took a little break from crying to smile at me.

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Our routine changed from the year prior, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I found it exciting and new to see her as a mom. She took pleasure in every step of her son’s life no matter how ordinary it might seem to other people. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with such a sweet little boy, and I wanted to hold him every chance I got. Parker, had become the center of Krysten’s universe.

Parker was born with an extreme sense of adventure. Before the age of one, he had a more active life than most adults. He strolled down the eccentric Venice Beach Board Walk, got his feet sandy at Laguna Beach, window shopped down Rodeo Drive, enjoyed the Santa Monica Pier, experienced life under the sea with The Little Mermaid, and tried to take a bite off Mickey’s nose. I don’t know who said having kids slows people down, but this little family is not slowing down anytime soon. On the contrary, it seems they love to take their son on all kinds of field trips, stimulating his senses and creating memories as a family.

As for the typical question of whether or not people miss late nights, and closing down the bars, I can say that it didn’t feel relevant. I enjoyed coming home after a day of sightseeing and watching the Kardashians with Krysten on Hulu because it made me happy she was at peace knowing her baby was sound asleep in the next room. And if her baby needed her, she could go and hold him at any moment.

There were many highlights on the trip, cocktails in Beverly Hills, family dinners, coffee with her aunt Lala, breakfast with her mom Sue, steaks with her dad and brother. Other nights we played Cards Against Humanity while the baby slept or went out for pasta.
The four of us, Steve, Krysten, Parker and I spent the entire day at Disneyland. We ate fried things, took turns on rides and devoured those giant smoked turkey legs. No wonder when I left and arrived in San Francisco my arrival depression skyrocketed.

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