I knew this trip would be full of memories, I knew that I would see people from my past. But, not once did I think I would have the chance to catch up with so many! It has been 6 weeks of emotion, I have met up with recent friends, made brand new friends, caught up with friends of my teenage years and reunited with friends from 20 years ago…
Los Angeles – Orange County, CA
Following our short trip to Santa Barabara where we met a group of people that welcomed us into their home, showed us around their locality without hesitation and even blew fireworks into the sky on the beach to celebrate, had me buzzing. I don’t know what it is about making new friends that fills me with such rhapsody, I get a warm fuzzy feeling of acceptance and companionship. But then it is replaced with great heartache when we leave them or separate... – Maybe it’s a recall from my childhood. –
We continued down Route 1, admiring its stunning views before hitting the freeway into Los Angeles.
Orange County was where I would re-trace my childhood. I was both excited and nervous. I hadn’t seen these people for 20 years, they remembered me as a tiny person – with an American accent! – and though we shared fond memories, we were no longer the same people. 20 years is a huge gap in life.
The day leading up to our reunion, hubby and I drove around my old neighbourhood. We first went to the school I spent those three years at. I remember everything so clearly, how it looked, the monkey bars I fractured my arm on, the classrooms, everything. Yet, I did not recognise the drive to it, but maybe the roads have changed in the last 20 years – or I was just really unobservant as I child, well I still am now! So probably that… –
At first, I wasn’t sure if we were actually heading to the right place until we drove in through the entrance and suddenly everything came flooding back to me except everything was a hell of a lot smaller than I remember. Brad had to remind me that I was probably only a little pipsqueak back then so of course, I remember everything to be bigger.
After re-living my memories with Brad at the school, we headed to one of the locations my father would take me and my mum most Sundays. I couldn’t remember the name of it, all I knew was that it was a pit stop for bikers on a dirt road. It played loud blues music, and dad used to win me lots of toys from the claw machine there. – Those of which I still have by the way, thanks poppa! –
I knew the area it was in was called Silverado Canyon so I typed into trusty google and low and behold, there she was “The Chef’s Corner”, exactly how I remembered it. A total time warp!
We enjoyed a beer, I sat for 20 minutes communicating with my parents, sending them pictures and reminiscing on old times. We said good night – there’s about an 8-hour difference between California and England – and so Brad and I headed off to our last slab on the path through my childhood; Laguna Beach.
To be honest, all we did there was nap – for 2 and a half hours – , the cold breeze after the sun had set woke us up and we made our way back to the motel to get ready for my reunion.
Driving to the restaurant we all agreed to meet at, shot adrenaline through my body. I felt like I was gonna puke. I knew already that one of my friends, Ryan, would not be able to make it. He and his wife were expecting a beautiful baby girl who had come into the world not long before our reunion. Something came up and so, unfortunately they could no longer make it.
As we pulled into the car park I saw them all standing there, with their families and new partners. As we all came face to face again after 20 years, it was as if a door that had been locked for many years, or a box even… A box full of memories that had been stowed away to collect dust had been found and re-opened.
Emotion pouring out of all of us, just completely elated to be in each others presence. And a bond that was still there after so long. It was magical.
We ate and caught up over several hours, getting to know each other once again, in this new life of ours.
I even met up again with Sheila the next day, and we spent a few more hours catching up in Denny’s Diner before saying good-bye again.
We have planned for another reunion in 2 years time, where we will meet in my territory, England!
This time around, there was no grief in our farewell, because in this new life we knew that we would see each other again. It was just as hard as the first time, hugs so tight we thought we might leave a mark.