I have become a professional at the flight from Seattle to Orange County. Ever since I moved to the Pacific Northwest four and a half years ago (that feels bizarre to type), I have probably made the journey 15-20 times, to the point where now, I am not even exhausted from the frantic ordeal of security and cramped legroom for two and a half hours. It is wonderfully normal to be picked up by my best friend and trot off to lunch or a tasty luxury treat and enjoy each other for a few hours before I head south to my silly beach hometown. It is a nostalgic thrill to sit in her small white car and blast mediocre pop songs and laugh, simply at each other's company. It is good to sit on the upstairs balcony of Pizza Port with my partner and drink good brews and watch the final remains of the warm Southern California sunset. It is good to drive to the top of the world, carelessly listening to a new album, and watch the flickering headlights of strangers careen down I-5, perhaps to San Diego, perhaps even to Seattle eventually. It is good to walk on the beach trail without shoes and sip a lavender caramel iced latte and pour water on my dog's head to keep her from overheating in her winter coat. Salt and sunscreen and seaweed and two day old bonfires are the smells of my adolescence. Cracked heels from hot pavement and light sunburns on my forearms are grounding, in a peculiar and comforting kind of way.
I will never return to this place, but it is good to return to this place.