Travel Chronicles from California: First Impressions

How does one begin a narrative about an East coast girl who has been transported to the other side of the country into the land of forever clear skies, palm trees, and a backdrop of magnificent mountains? It’s an overwhelming undertaking, but I have decided that I must get on with it and start already because so much has happened in the past five (?) days I’ve been here, and soon it will be too difficult to catch up. So, here we go. Let’s begin.

June 16. I exited the airport (after my first plane ride in nearly 5 years) and took my first steps on California land. The first thing I noticed, of course, was the temperature, the delightful breeze that blew past my face, the cloudless sky that was blue, blue, blue. Because the weather was absolutely perfect, the kind of weather I call Jannah weather because that’s the kind of weather I dream of Jannah being like.

I don’t remember noticing anything else very significant that first hour or so here. I think I was in a bit of a sleepless daze. It was the day after Eid and I’d just been traveling for three days straight (8ish hours from North Carolina to Delaware with a stopover in DC, a day of house hopping in DE, a 3-hour journey to New York, and then the 6 hour flight to California). I’d had an average of three hours of sleep each night throughout all these journeys, and thinking back, I think it makes sense if it was true that I was in a daze. Either way, the weather was definitely my most memorable first impression of California, and even now, after having seen the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and other really cool attractions, the weather still is my favorite part of this place. (If you think this sounds like an exaggeration, please keep in mind that I live in North Carolina where the summer temperature averages at 90 degrees and I almost melt every time I step outside. Okay, maybe the almost melting part is a bit of an exaggeration, but I have a very low tolerance for heat.)

Honestly, before I came here for the first time ever five-ish days ago, I’ve never really had a super positive impression of California, other than the fact that it was the easiest state to identify on the United States map. Various life circumstances have contributed to this general unimpressed attitude towards the Golden State. One of my most notable complaints is that California is too far away from civilization, civilization being the world in which I’ve lived all my life, the East coast. I can also be a very contrary person who refuses to like the idea of a place just because everyone says it’s awesome.

But upon embarking on this journey, I decided to have an open mind, and as California was thrust upon me, I found myself pleased by the new world I was surrounded by.

That first day, after getting off the plane, unloading our month’s worth of luggage into our lodgings and having a short nap, we drove off to Half Moon Bay to see the ocean because we’re adventurous like that. (Also, the weekend was the only time we’d be able to go there and we didn’t want to waste the rest of that Saturday doing things we could have done on a Monday.) I was very thrilled that it was cold enough to require jackets, and I excitedly ran off in the sand towards the brilliant waves of the Pacific Ocean. I stood there at the edge of the water, gazing upon the glory of Allah’s creation, and I decided that California was pretty awesome. Mainly because the weather was chilly in the middle of June. But also because it was just so beautiful.

And that was my first day in California.

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