I pulled into Long Beach, so excited to see the Pacific. I remembered looking out on the Atlantic from the St. Simon’s Island Lighthouse the weekend before I left looking forward to this day. I felt a wave of bliss over my accomplishment. I had managed to traverse across the entire country by myself! I was invited to Couchsurf with Marc and his roommate right on Ocean Ave. It was right in the middle of the action and across the street from the beach. Things were pretty noisy and parking was difficult in this very urban environment. I didn’t realize that I had scheduled my arrival for the weekend of the Toyota Grand Prix. The races greatly affected parking availability.
I started the first evening with a walk on the beach. I made several lady bug friends in the sand. I know I’ve been lucky. I picked them up and they crawled all over my arms. They were my lucky little friends, coming to join me on my luck.
Marc was an amazing host. He immigrated here from the Philippines and he reminded me of the men in my family. A boy with eight sisters and no brothers, his response when I asked him if he grew up in the estrogen ocean was, “Yes, I swam in it, bathed in it and drank from it.”
I found out that the Long Beach Couchsurfer community was actually really close-knit. They all know each other and have regular meet-ups. Marc was overall a very sweet guy and a good friend. I met his neighbor and French foreign exchange student Deby for lunch one day, because Marc went to go help out a friend in crisis whose husband had just returned from war with severe PTSD. Apparently the whole crew of Marines came back messed up. They snap at their children over the fork making too much noise on a plate and they sleep talk in their nightmares. What kind of person wouldn’t be psychologically unstable after doing what they did? I find it hard to be patriotic when men and women come home from overseas so different from the people they were when they left. I’ve never been in war, so I know I don’t know what it’s like, but I don’t believe we are making the world a safer place to live by having a culture of aggression. I don’t understand how people, especially people who claim to be so moral can say God Bless America and be in support of a militaristic government that commits so many injustices.
Deby and I ignored our concerns and experimented making food with the random ingredients that we had. She was moving back to France that week, so she got to packing and I headed out to Retro Row for some vintage window shopping. What’s my secret for not buying too many clothes? Haha… when I really like something, I take a picture of myself wearing it in the dressing room. That way if I am ever needing to buy a dress, I can keep my eye out for something similar. Later I met back up with Deby and her couchsurfing host for Mexican food. Our burritos were so huge that they took up the entire plate!
The next day was one of quiet serenity. I drove up the coast to visit the Wayfarer Chapel, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The entire chapel was made of glass and it was the closest thing one could get to being outside without being outside. Fountains, gardens and a view of the ocean below the cliffs also added to the relaxing atmosphere.
All in all, between walking the beach, the old downtown buildings and the neighborhoods filled with bungalows, I would describe my visit to Long Beach as relaxing.