Some say travel is good for the soul. That rings true with me, I get restless when I feel stuck in one place too long. My first year in California, that what I did. I have been determined to make California living something that works for me, so I stayed put (minus two very short trips) I did not leave the state for almost a year. There were ups and downs to that, I fell in love with the California coastline and did the scenic roadtrip up PCH from Los Angeles to San Francisco and all the places in between. I learned how to deal with the daily commute up the wretched 405 through the Westside of LA. I even got sick of the sunshine — yes there can be too many 80 degree and sunny days. I even started missing rain and that smell in the air during winter when everyone’s heat kicks on.
But I seriously digress, the hardest part about being in California is being far away from family. 3000 miles in a distance. That’s not drop everything, jump in the car and you’ll be home in 4 hours kinda thing. That’s drop everything, get ready to shell out a ridiculous amount in last minute airfare and hope you don’t get stuck in the middle seat on a red eye. So when everything suddenly happened with my grandfather I felt so helpless. There was no way I would make it to say goodbye, and when the funeral plans suddenly changed there was no way to change around flights. Stoically, I still went.
This trip was good for my soul. My time spent in California has felt like a surreal reality where I don’t belong. At my core, I’ve been homesick and missing something that I haven’t quite been able to my finger on. This was it – being surrounded by family on the beautiful island that is Puerto Rico was what I needed. Visiting our family mausoleum and the beach where my grandmother’s ashes were laid to rest gave me some much needed closure and the ability to say goodbye.
And since I like most associate feelings with food, being able to eat the food of my childhood which I have been deprived of from living away from home for so long was the best therapy I could ask for. My mom smuggled in some aji dulce seeds back — so there will be a plant popping up in my apartment soon and I ate enough tostones and mofongo for this decade. Since returning, I’ve still been sad, but determined to stay and make it work. There’s nothing stopping me from throwing a pernil in the oven, or making coquito and pasteles this holiday season to give me that little bit of home I always long for.