I grew up living in California my whole life, not ever moving once. When I started attending school in Chicago, the biggest question I got was "why would you leave California?!". People call me crazy for wanting to leave all the time. The reason why I wanted to attend school in another state was because I wanted to experience a different life and experience from what I have come to know. But also, little did I realize that it would give me so many reasons to miss it. So many of my adventures and sentimental memories take place in California, which is exactly why I do not think that I will ever be able to stay away.
I plan on moving back to California after I graduate college. While I have fallen in love with Chicago and made it my second home, I realized that California was and is where I am meant to be. From childhood memories to future careers and goals, the West Coast has it all for me. To help you get a better idea of what these meant to me, let me explain.
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Starting off on an obvious note, I'd be lying if I said that Disneyland was not a big reason for me to come back. Disneyland is a place for everyone, full of dreams and magic. For me, it is my childhood. Growing up, my dad would take my sister and I to Disneyland after school every Friday when we were in elementary school. I still remember our routine of making sure we went on all of the best rides first, then going to eat clam chowder bread bowls in the New Orleans Square, watching Fantasmic from the sidelines, getting churros and staying to watch the fireworks.
But then as we got older, the prices went up and we could only go on special occasions. But when I was in high school, had my license and I got an annual pass, I would occasionally go to Disneyland by myself. I would find a place to sit on Mainstreet, and I would either draw sketches of what I saw, or simply reflect and reminisce. These times meant a lot to me because gave me the passion and imagination that I have today. I would forever regret never going back as frequently as I used to.
2. The Beach
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There is nothing better than a West Coast beach. Well, at least that is what I think. The beach is where everyone had their birthday parties, get-togethers and going away parties. I had my going away party at the beach just a few days before I left for college. It was emotional, to say the least and left me with many good memories of my friends. Driving on the pacific coast highway with my friends filling my old beaten up Ford Escape while blasting music was a regular occasion.
The beach was also a place for me to think. I used to drive by myself to the beach, park my car facing the ocean and sit on the roof my car just watching the waves crash. I would do this mainly whenever I was sad. The beach was the best form of therapy for me and it always somehow helped to cheer me up.
3. Los Angeles
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This is where I am going to live one day. It is where I want to pursue my career in the entertainment industry. But it is also the place where family is, specifically my dad's side of the family. Back when we were younger, my dad would drive my sister and I up to LA every Saturday to visit my Aunt Jamie and Grandpa. The drive up there is only about 45 minute, but it was always too long in my mind because going to our Aunt's house was just about as exciting as going on vacation, and still is. My Aunt would spoil us to no end (she still does) and my grandpa would always call us angels and give us $1 before we left. My family is pretty cool.
Also, my dad works at LAX. I have no shame in saying that I am 100% a daddy's girl because my dad is without a doubt my best friend. And so, if my dad is going to be working in LA, then I want to be around so that I can still hang out with him without having to drive long ways.
4. The Grove
Going off of Los Angeles, on of my favorite places in the city is The Grove. This place has great shops and food, but the main reason I went was for the book signings. At the Barnes and Noble located at The Grove, many authors have book signings held there, which is where I met my favorite actor and author, Chris Colfer. This involved my friend and I driving to The Grove at 2 am just so that we could be first in line. I remember us getting there and shivering like mad because of how cold it was, and feeling very tired because of the little sleep we got. I remember falling asleep inside Barnes and Noble waiting for Chris to come. The whole evening was filled with us laughing, freaking out and me crying while my friend records me. It has become a tradition of ours to go to these book signings, which has been happening for the past 2 years.
Also at The Grove, there is an American Girl Doll shop, where you can have tea parties held there and get your American Girl Dolls all fancied up. One of my friends held her birthday party there and it was honestly such a fun and carefree time, I felt like a little kid again. Yes, we were adults by the time this happened. No shame.
5. San Francisco
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I love San Francisco. This place is beautiful and is the best place to be if you love rainy weather. Luckily for me, I love rainy weather. I have been there on two occasions; One being for a school field trip and the other being for college tours. From walking over the Golden Gate Bridge to spending all my money at the Ghirardelli shop, it was impossible for me to not fall in love.
Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of fun memories because I had only been there twice and for a short amount of time. All the more reason to come back to California. I have always just wanted to spend many weekends exploring the city to no end. It is also a dream of mine to live there when I retire one day.
6. The Mountains
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A vacation to the mountains was my family's specialty. We were never really big on crazy travel vacations until later on, so growing up, a lot of our vacations involved driving up to the mountains and renting a cabin for a few days. Our main destination that we kept going back to was Crestline. It had a big lake that had water slides and paddle boats you could rent out. There was also a lake where we would go fishing. I remember our parents waking us up early to go fish. I also distinctly remember being extremely horrible at fishing and accidentally throwing my fishing rod into the lake. Oops.
I also just loved the cabin. It was so earthy and quaint and made being immersed in nature feel at home. It had one of those electronic fish on a plaque that would sing whenever you push the button. I remember wanting one of my own so bad. These trips were always about the little things being big things, and it makes me smile just thinking about it. I know for a fact that is will be one of my future family's main vacation destination.
7. Mission Viejo
The safe city. The city with a heck of a lot of trees. The city that hosted the Road Cycling events in the Summer Olympics of 1984. The city where I grew up. My home.
It is the city where I took swim lessons at the same place as Olympians. It is where I spent long hours playing out in the street of the cul-de-sac with my neighbors. It is where I attended Elementary school and Middle School. Where I learned my passion for music. It is the only place where you can find a Royal Donuts and Burgers fast food restaurant. The place where my family has lived and still lives into this day.
I love college. I really do. I love being able to get away and live my own life in a city that I've made my own. But I love going home. When I go home, it gives life so much more meaning for me. It reminds me that every simple and little thing matters. From my dad laughing at his own joke to my dog destroying our living room, all of it matters because it is my home. It is my beginning.
California has given me all of this. Dreams, aspirations, adventures and a home. California gave me my beginning, and I can promise you that is exactly where I will be till the very end.