Growing up, I spent many summer weeks in California, visiting my grandparents, who live between Los Angeles and San Bernardino, and my cousins, who used to live in San Diego. I loved going to California because there were pools, Disneyland, Sea World, and little chance of rain to ruin our outdoor fun.
Now, only my grandmother, my Nana, still lives in California. My cousins moved across the country, and my Papa passed away almost nine years ago.
My Nana is 92 years old, and sharp as a whip, but has a little trouble getting around. She wasn’t able to attend my wedding back in December, and so I wanted to bring Nick to California to meet her. We flew out there during his one week of summer vacation to stay with her, and to explore southern California.
I realized that this trip was unique; all my other trips to California have been with my family, and so this was the first time I got to spend time with just my Nana, and Nick. She really enjoyed hearing about our new life in Louisville, and I loved that she could help share my childhood memories and stories with Nick.
California is a place of nostalgia for me. Throughout the week, I found memories conjured up by every place we went. Walking past my grandparents’ old house, I remembered pretending I had a secret garden in the backyard, and playing with the old typewriter in the den. I took Nick on the running route I had mapped a few Christmases ago, and thought back to when I unleashed all my anxieties upon the pavement. Eating at Vince’s Spaghetti, I tasted the good times my whole family has shared there, like when my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, but also the time we ate there after my Papa’s funeral. I remembered the swimming pools, the donuts, and the games of mini golf, but also the scraped hands, the little kid arguments with my cousin, and the harshness of goodbye.
This trip was a chance for me to make new memories. We had a few adventures in the mountains, and on the coast, which are to follow, but even the quiet time spent with my Nana will make for great memories. If home is where the heart is, then when you go to visit a person and a place you love, you’re going home.