My life right now is in a major transitional phase. America feels like a weird place to be, and courtesy of all the jumping around and visiting I've been doing, I don't think I've really "re-entered" yet. I've done some research on re-entry culture shock, which is generally expected after a time abroad as long and with as much cultural integration as mine was/had--now I feel like I'm just waiting around for it to rear its ugly head. Thankfully, I've been distracted by everything I have going on.
I landed in Sacramento, and exactly 36 hours later I was back at the airport to fly down to Los Angeles. I do not recommend this to anyone. I was exhausted, jetlagged, and did not enjoy spending my one day at home unpacking, washing clothes, and packing again. My visit to Southern California, however, was worth it.
I started off with a visit with my grandparents in Valencia, and then went on to spend a few days--including Shabbat--in the city with my best friend and her sweet little family. Getting to meet her beautiful baby, who until now has only existed for me in photos and FaceTime, was so special. For the first time, I truly felt like an auntie. Rivka Leah's mommy, Ana, was among my first friends in Santa Barbara, six long years ago when I was a scared little freshman. I feel so lucky that through those six years--2.5 of them spent on separate continents--we have not only stayed friends, but stayed as close as we've ever been. Six years later, she is married and a mommy, our lives are vastly different, but she is still my best friend. Here's to another 6 years, and many more after that!
After Shabbat, I headed up to Santa Barbara. What an odd and awesome experience, to be back there! Driving up, I almost felt nervous--I wondered what it would be like, how much Isla Vista would have changed, who would have time to hang out with me in the middle of final exams. Worst time to visit, I know, but it was then or never. I got to stay at my sorority's apartment, where my little and three of my other good friends happen to live, so that was fantastic.
|I drove in the same way I drove out almost exactly a year before.|
I got to meet up with so many of my friends, and I am so happy about that! Drinks with my old roommate, I got to eat Freebirds at long last, and I even ran into a friend who happens to be from Austria and chatted about our shared love. Though it was certainly strange to be there during finals--and I felt a bit like I should be studying, especially in Starbucks where the air buzzed with anxiety--I had a fabulous time, and getting to finally see my little and so many other sisters and friends was the best.
|Here's El Embarcadero looking a lot classier that when I last saw it|
|The ocean wasn't at its best--lots of dead kelp washing up|
I have also discovered the super-fun Irish/British bar a few blocks from my house, and made it to San Francisco to visit my godmother. You might recall, if you were reading back then, that her beautiful baby boy, Everett, was born on my first day of work in Austria. Well, I finally met him and man is he sweet. Such a cheery disposition, curious, and was happy to hang out with this crazy blonde he'd never met before. We're best friends now. And let's be real, have you ever seen a boy as cute as he is? Because I haven't! His mom is pretty awesome, too.
And that, my friends, is what America is like. More on cultural adjustment and missing Austria (because I do already) can be expected in upcoming posts.