California: In A Word
Would it surprise you that we had no time to think about writing, let alone have the time to touch our website during our time in California? To sum up our 6 months in California in a word: Frenetic.
As our plane descended into Los Angeles, I was overcome with anxiety and stress just peering down at the city lights - dense, bright, red and white ribbons of car traffic lights snaking through the multi-colored dots of dizzying city life. I’m quite certain that the wretched 405 is one of our planet’s most visible landmarks from outer space and within seconds of seeing it, my Italy vanishes. We are back in California.
Tightly clinching my armrests as we come in for a landing, my mind tries to desperately hold onto my ‘piano’ state-of-mind and focus on the positives that are now within reach. Wheels touchdown and I put all my to-dos in order:
- Smell the sea air
- Take a hot shower, with strong water pressure, in a ‘normal’ sized shower
- Sleep after 24 hours of travel
- American breakfast
- Mexican food (all day everyday, bonus if we can find a breakfast burrito for #4)
- Retrieve my car (will I remember how to drive an automatic?)
- See my kiddos (cue happy tears)
See family. This is the point in my mental list I start crying. The captain turns off the seat belt sign with the telltale ‘bing’ and everyone bolts up to frantically get off the plane, pushing and shoving to get back to their busy lives or whatever reason they are in LA. I quickly wipe my tears and take a moment to grieve my ‘piano’ way of life. I breathe deep and say my final good bye to Italy, to my ‘tranquilo’ and start throwing elbows. Hello, California.
For the first two weeks, I resent California. Then, as any place will do once you start to call it home, the grass becomes greener. It’s nice to have a normal-sized shower. It’s nice to have any cuisine you want (FYI, I forbid Italian food the entire time we were home and nary a zucchini made it onto my almost daily stir fry). It is nice to watch english language TV and have proper high speed internet/cellular data. It is nice to be part of the California beach scene. But most of all, it is nice to be with family.
I’m not quite sure how I didn’t fall to a puddly, sobbing mess when I saw ‘my kiddos’ for the first time. I think, no, I know, it was the bright smile and insanely loud “AUNTIE KIKI!!!!” from my William who ran at me so fast and hugged me so hard I literally couldn’t fall to the ground reduced to happy tears. The nanosecond it took to see him (and hear him) my heart swelled up and stopped the tears I was expecting. Hello, my heart.
Six months was busy and hurried and stressful in California. Frenetic for sure. But, the only REAL way to sum up California is: Family.
Sitting back on my patio in Tuscany, thinking about California, I get a wave of anxiety roll from my gut to my head settling into a twinge of a headache at my temples. Then, like a tsunami, fresh off the California coast, my mind is flooded with memories of time spent with family and the anxiety subsides.
Hugging my Paige, watching her play with Elliot and pretending to eat her belly button to hear her sweet giggles. Cheering on James at his hockey games, toes freezing wearing flip flops (because, well, California), eating nutella with him out of a jar as he makes crepes and sneaking a hug when he least expects it. Going on solo shopping trips to Target with Kate, watching her gracefully flip and twist her way to medals in her dive meets and secretly plotting our future goat/dog/horse farm in quiet moments together. Countless 'I love you's' from my adoring William, followed by random kisses planted on my cheek as he skips past, shushing his ultra-loud volume but soaking up his enthusiasm for life. Weekends in NorCal with my girlies, Jocelyn and Sloane - not enough time, but their smiles and hugs are a permanent fixture in my mind's eye. Seeing Mikayla, Nathan and Spencer and realizing that their severe increase in height is an indicator that I don’t see them nearly enough. Christmas presents, Easter egg hunts and birthdays. Dad, Brother, Sisters, In-Laws and dear friends. Smiles, hugs, laughter and unconditional love.
Italy is many things. But California is the keeper of the people I cherish most on this planet. Brighter than the 405 traffic lights, each of them are the brightest spots in my universe. Every night when I look up and see their California sun lighting my Tuscany moon, a happy tear rolls down my face. I am here, they are there. Separated by geography, but imbedded in my heart.
Perhaps then, the truly best word for our time in California? Love.