Sitting in the hills north of Los Angeles, looking over the Pacific, the light seems both too harsh and too perfect. My eyes struggle to adjust to the brightness of air without humidity, or a sky without clouds. Along the horizon to the south the smog of downtown shades the air brown. In all other directions the sky is the particular light blue of southern California. As usual, it is both hot in the sun and cool in the shade. After two months of summer sweat and air conditioning in Hong Kong, leaving the patio doors swung wide is a glorious feeling.
We are once again on the move. For the first time in twenty twenty one we have crossed a border, boarded an airplane. For the first time in twenty twenty one we are in the company of old, old friends. For the first time in twenty twenty one we are on vacation. The combination is a wonderful feeling. Driving up the coast last night, working hard to do simple things like lane changes correctly after a year and a half abroad, we marveled at how comfortable we are here, on the southern coast of California, where neither of us are from and where we have never lived. We are comfortable here, on the PCH, precisely for that reason: it’s always vacation.
There’s a glory to returning to a vacation spot, to well-known restaurants and streets, to old friends and familiar beds. It’s an easy trigger for the body, which relaxes so quickly in these comfortable surroundings. Arriving, we chat with our hosts in the quiet dark of the house before all heading to shower and bed. We are so much more comfortable than we’d been, two dozen hours before, still exhausted from the work day and barely finished cleaning and packing.