As soon as I felt the sun on my skin and the breeze through my hair, I knew that it was going to be hard to leave this place. California. Never in my mind did I think I was going to fall in love with California- let alone fall in love at first sight. Heck, until this summer I wasn’t sure I’d ever even see California.
Last Friday morning my friend, Jenny, and I fled the craziness that is Chicago for a four-day weekend in sunny California. After landing and getting our rental car, I found myself taken by the fresh air as we drove to San Francisco with our windows down and sunglasses on. With the sun shining down on me, I had one of those moments of recognition that there was nowhere else I wanted to be.
I could call my weekend in Northern California perfect, but instead I’ll reference it as being exactly what I needed. After a summer of anxiety and a few months of nothing but work-school-sleep-repeat, a weekend of sunshine and freedom was just the ticket. Add one of my best friends and a countryside of vineyards into the mix, and perfection may actually be the best way to describe it.
It is nearly impossible for me to give justice to the beauty that I experienced during my four days in California. Between the exquisite landscapes and the relaxing environment, I found peace. Peace within my surroundings, but most importantly peace within myself. Sure the wine had something to do with it, as did the companionship with Jenny; however, there was so much more to it that words simply cannot capture. In essence, I discovered myself. My true self. The girl without worries. The girl who lives fearlessly with no regrets. The girl who does what she says and says what she means. The girl who is comfortable being single and doesn’t rely on the affection of a man to complete her. The girl who believes she is beautiful- inside and out.
California was truly an awakening experience. Not only did I uncover things about myself, but I came to recognize how important certain things are to me. Within ten hours of my arrival back to Chicago, I was forced to adapt to a changing culture and face a somewhat stressful situation. This last week hasn’t been easy, but fortunately I’ve been able to keep my California sense with me and embrace it all with as much ease as possible. To be fair, if it wasn’t for my four days in California, I’m not certain that I could have handle such a buzzkill. But then again, as they say, “Everything happens for a reason.”
For the first time in a while, I felt free in California. I felt like nothing mattered expect where I was at the present time. Sure I knew that things were bound to change when I returned to Chicago, but then again I remained hopeful that my peace of mind would stay intact. And if not, then at least I had the vivid memories of the sun shining down on me as the wind blew through my hair as I drove through the captivating state of California.
*The title of this post is lyrics from Free by Zac Brown Band.