I recently met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years who was unaware of my short-term relocation to Binghamton last year. Once again I got the whole,
“Wait, wait, wait…you were assigned to upstate New York, pretty much the middle of nowhere…and you LIKED it?!?”
Ya, bruh, I tots did. What can I say? Being used to this question by now, I gave my usual responses,
“The people are so amazing. Living in a small community type of place really made me feel at home.”
“I just really felt like Binghamton was a great hub for all the places I want to explore on the east coast. Only a few hours drive from many different cities I haven’t been to yet.”
“Yes, I know, 5 hours is a long drive…but STILL!”
“Dammit! FINE. IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE.”
Needless to say, I was unable to convince him. No matter, I don’t really need to convince anyone why I loved it, nor do I need other people to understand. What’s important is that I understand and that I now know what that type of happiness feels like.
But you know, that conversation did make me think about it. Why did I like it so much? Yes, the people are amazing but I am blessed with amazing people out here too and I’m pretty sure there are actually a lot of amazing people everywhere, so it can’t possibly be that. The weather? Yeah, sure, seasons are wonderful but I’m loving the sunshine out here too. The location relative to other cities? Hmmm yes but being in LA allows me to go to the desert, beach, and mountains all in one day if I wanted to.
Then it hit me. Living in Binghamton where things are not as convenient, from the weather, to being able to use Yelp, to being able to have a variety of options to eat breakfast on a Sunday morning, made me really slow down and think about what really made me happy. Being able to go to a juice bar doesn’t really make me happy, it’s just damn convenient. Using Yelp to look up places to go doesn’t make me happy either, but going to a really good restaurant or good massage place does. And hey, I guess I could do this thing they do over there called talking to people for recommendations to figure out where I should go. 😛
With my typical activities taken away from me, I was kinda forced to think about what else I could do. So then I started going out on mini-trips on the weekends by myself, since I didn’t have friends at first. I started going for walks because it was just so beautiful. When I did make friends, I started hanging out at their house, having dinner and a glass of wine. And just like that, I realized it’s really the simple things that make me happy. How could I have forgotten how much I love going for walks? Or how much I enjoy long solo drives? Or even solo trips? I just felt so free, my thoughts were no longer as jumbled as before, and I finally felt at peace with myself, which made me just so SO happy.
Being back in California, I realized I could still do these things. I may still feel like I belong in the east coast and I will eventually end up back there but for now, why not do the things that made me so happy while I was in Binghamton? So solo local adventure it is, this time to Santa Barbara! I’ve been there before but not by myself, so in a way, it seemed new again.
Naturally, being a foodie, I sought out some great places to eat. Did I mention how excited I am to be able to use Yelp again?
I started off with a wonderful dinner at Scarlett Begonia in downtown Santa Barbara.
The following morning I had my favorite of all time breakfast, Eggs Benedict, over at Jeannine’s American Bakery Restaurant. It was pretty crowded, but since I was alone I had no problem getting seated at once. The benefits of a solo trip!
Then after that I went to get some macarons at Renaud’s Patisserie because why not? So what if I’ve gained weight since moving back here?
I didn’t want to just sit at the cafe and eat it though. No, not I! I wanted to eat them at the beach! So after driving in circles for about half an hour, I finally found the closest beach, which was More Mesa Beach and sat down to enjoy my macarons.
The sun was being a little finicky, playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds, but it was still a warm and beautiful day.
So there I was, enjoying my macarons whilst listening to the waves and looking out at the ocean when I see this man walking along the shore, picking up shells. “Oh how nice. Another person who enjoys the simple things in life. Wait a minute…is he..? Is that his…?”
I should mention that More Mesa Beach is a nude beach. Now, I DID know this but it still managed to surprise me. I’ve mentioned before that pretty much every time I go on a solo trip, I end up meeting someone. Well, on this trip, I happened to meet The Naked Man. He came up to me and casually asked if I wanted to join him. He seemed like a nice guy so I said, sure, why not. We ended up chatting for about half an hour, me in my jeans and tank top, him in his birthday suit, and it was just fine. He turned out to be a pretty cool guy. So although nothing extraordinary was said or done, I’m pretty sure I will remember this for a long time. After all, it’s not everyday you meet a stranger in all his birthday suit glory but end up talking about the weather. True story. 😀