After spending six relaxing weeks vacationing in India, I’m ready to board the first of four planes back to Southern California. It’s an epic trip to an epic land. I’m about to enter the meat grinder of being glued to a plane seat for the next thirty hours, but every rose has its meat grinder. If I’m lucky and get a window seat on the last plane, I’ll be anxiously awaiting familiar landmarks:
“Oh wow, there’s Big Bear Lake. They tell me it snowed a lot when I was gone … I’ll bet San Gorgonio looks like giant bowl of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with pine trees. I can’t wait to go hiking in the Big Bear high country. Oh, there’s sapphire blue Lake Arrowhead … it’s amazing how the mountains blend right into the high desert. It looks like the desert could just overtake those mountains … but not with that snow on the ground.”
“There’s the 210 Freeway, the one I take to Old Town Pasadena. I can’t wait to get a wood-fired pizza margherita at Settebello … and that’s downtown LA, home of the Grand Central Market. India has great food, but there’s every kind of food down there—it’s been way too long since I’ve had a really good falafel sandwich or Thai street food. There’s the 405 Freeway—oh no, it’s jammed—speaking of a meat grinder.”
Soon, I’ll be standing on the curb at LAX, and the first thing I’ll notice is that special shade of Southern California sunlight. I’m no Claude Monet, I can’t paint an Impressionist painting of sunshine; I can only say that the Southland sunshine has a special, cheerful quality to it. I said it last year and I’ll say it again next year: There’s no place I’d rather live than Southern California.
The sunshine insists on it.