Tuesday, May 26, 2015

California Beautiful

In what already feels like a dream, I spent this past Friday through Sunday in stunningly beautiful Montecito, California with some of my best friends from law school celebrating our beautiful, beloved, and soon-to-be-bride Alli. Even when I was there, everything about California was so impossibly perfect it felt fake (except the traffic, though even that was so super sized it almost seemed fake as well), but after a day of storms and grey in Fort Worth, it seems particularly impossible that I was doing handstands on the beach at Santa Barbara just yesterday morning.

The trip was amazing. I just typed and deleted a recounting of our itinerary, because that isn't really the point. The point is that this place is magical. You don't need air conditioning and you can keep all the windows open because there aren't any mosquitoes. No mosquitoes. I'd move there for that alone.

Alli generously rented us a beautiful estate in the hills for all to gather. The door was unlocked for us on arrival because, again, this is a magical place. 1.5 acres, a hot tub, big bedrooms, a bigger kitchen, and hills and rocks and flowers everywhere you looked. The room my friend Katie and I shared had a full set of the Babysitter's Club books. What could be better?

I spent a long time traveling to get there, but Alli flew in from Hong Kong, and other friends from the East Coast, so I couldn't complain. And I got to make a stop at Katie's West Hollywood apartment, which was lovely after she has so generously visited me at both of my Texas abodes. We bought a lot of wine at Trader Joe's before picking up a few more ladies and driving up the PCH to Santa Barbara. My first sighting of the ocean made me squeal. It'd been a long time since we'd seen each other.

We talked and laughed and ate candy on the trip. We exclaimed over the house and headed out for dinner in town. We stayed up late drinking wine in the hot tub and marveling at how many more stars are in the Montecito hills than our respective homes of LA, NYC, DFW, DC, and HK.

I woke up too early and couldn't figure out why everywhere was so content to lounge and then I remembered that I was in an earlier time zone and wasn't traveling with small children. I made tea and waited for everyone else to catch up. We went to a Farmer's Market so bright and beautiful it nearly made me cry. We don't have one in Fort Worth and I can only imagine the vegetable chopping I could do if we did.

Everyone bought what looked good to them and we cooked it all up for dinner that night. I bought the most amazing carrots I've ever tasted (I know, that is a ridiculous sentence, but you haven't had them) and a carton of pluots, a gorgeous dark purple and vibrant pink fruit that made me think of Claire. With our produce safely in our car (where we could leave it because it's not 100 degrees outside; madness!), we headed off to a yoga studio in Goleta for a private aerial yoga class.

It was amazing and my new goal in life is to own an aerial yoga studio in Fort Worth.

Or just wait for someone else to open one so I can go all the time.

Our teacher opened our class with, "did you do a lot of drinking last night?"

I really enjoy being upside down. It's so nice when your face can match your pants.

We ended in our cocoons, which is basically a swingier form of savasana that was like being back in the womb. But roomier and less sticky.

We got back to the house and lazed about, reading, drinking (it was 5:00 on the east coast), or, if you're me, making your friend in sandals explore the property with you. We had over an acre at our disposal! I needed to see it all- secret fountains, little tables and chairs tucked away at different elevations. I soaked it up, chased a lizard, and strangely took no pictures.

Here, have a roasted candy cane beet instead

Later, everyone cooked their market items and we ended up with an amazing and shockingly healthy dinner- roasted veggies, my first ever pleasant taste of beets (they don't have to be slimy and purple and gross; they can be golden or pink and white striped and all crazy delicious!), fresh breads, steamed artichokes, two roasted chickens, salad, and so much fruit. All local and organic and so inexpensive it would make you cry as you walk through your mid-city Whole Foods.

Before I left for the trip, Katie had mentioned going for a run on Sunday and I, wrapped up in my love for Katie and excitement for the trip, said, "Oh, I'll go too!". But I don't run. I hate running and I am terrible at it. The furthest I've ever gone was 3.0 miles in 2002, just to prove I could, and then I retired from running immediately afterward. I do not run.

Sunday morning found me running, in my 3-year-old running shoes that totally messed up my instep, chatting with my runner friends and marveling at how much running didn't suck when you can do it while looking at this:

And talking to them:

Also, I've just never been this lean or in this good of shape. That sounds like puffery, but I was shocked at how much easier running felt now versus when I'd done it 13 years and 15 pounds ago. I might not hate running after all. Or beets. I feel like I have to reconsider everything now.

Also cacti make up my new favorite flower

We went 3.1 miles, besting my personal record for distance, and Alli and I celebrated with cartwheels on the beach.

Santa Barbara is almost stupidly beautiful.

After showering and packing and gorging on more fruit (we had 8 girls in the house and probably 16 lbs. of 10 different varieties of fruit; magic!) we headed out for lunch and shopping. I felt my run deserved a reward and my reward took the form of a Mexican combo platter that included a whole steak buried under many other things.

I ate it all. We walked and shopped our way through downtown Santa Barbara while I tried to stop myself from saying, "it's just so pretty" for the 600th time and then it was time for hugs and farewells so I could catch my 2.5 hour bus ride to make my 3.0 hour plane ride before my 1.0 hour car ride home. I pulled in the driveway at 1:15 a.m., was in bed with a snuggly JP at 1:18 a.m. and blissfully asleep minutes later. I woke up feeling refreshed and loved with JP wrapped around me and the big kids banging on our door. Cora screamed when she saw me and clawed her way up my side like a monkey. The best part of leaving is always the coming back.

I packed my pluots for the bus ride.
California makes me a better person.

But man, the time when you're gone can be pretty incredible too. I love those ladies and I LOVE California. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I'd headed to a different law school back in 2005- what if I'd gone to Columbia as I'd originally committed? or waited out the wait list at Stanford? How different would my life have been if I'd moved to New York or California? But I always come back to the fact that UChicago, besides giving me an incredible legal education (though admittedly, by nearly killing me in the process), put all these strong and brilliant women in my life, plus even more who couldn't make it, and just for that, I wouldn't change a thing.

Though I wouldn't mind if I could now find us a reason to move to California.


  1. Oh I love the Texan in California. Montecito and PCH. <3

    1. Dangit I hate when I spell things wrong and it is personally horrifying how much I do it here. At work I never misspell anything; stick me in blogger and they're all over the place. I fixed my two "cido" midnight brain farts, but PCH is right, right? I swear I heard a local refer to it that way!

      (Side note: I lived in California for five years when I was younger and my sister was born there and I have never been so jealous of preschool age me!).

  2. Glad you had a good time. There are lots of beautiful places in California, but I have lots of great memories of SB in particular :)

  3. Everything looked amazing (including your butts in those aerial yoga pics), and I bet you do have a farmer's market in Fort Worth! We have a weekly neighborhood one here in Vegas, and I'm sure that's not due to our proximity to California. I get the absolute urge to move there every time I go there, too, but Santa Barbara is absolutely on my list now :)

  4. Oh LL, I love this post! You were literally a few blocks from my house when you were at Better Days Yoga! CA (well, some parts) is very grand, and I'm so glad you enjoyed your time here. :)

  5. P.s. "PCH" is indeed correct.

  6. I think the comment above means that a local would say "I drove up PCH" not "the PCH." You only say the before number highways, as in "I took the 101 up to Santa Barbara."

  7. Oh, that was the question? Ok, so most people say "I drove up the PCH" (and yes, in Southern Ca, "the" before numbered hwys too-- in Northern Ca, it's actually most common to not use "the", weirdly enough!)... but unlike numbered hwys, PCH can also be used without a "the", though it is more common to say "the PCH".... Strange regional linguistic thing, isn't it? I grew up in northern ca and had to get used to the "the" thing...Hehe.

  8. I have not heard of aerial yoga but it looks like a blast!

  9. Have you tried the Cowtown Farmers Market (https://www.facebook.com/cowtownfarmersmkt)? It isn't very big, but I like that all the producers/farmers are within 150 miles of Fort Worth.

  10. Hi LL, so.....I don't live near a barre studio. Could you pretty please film one of your barre classes so we can participate in the comfort of our living rooms? I'm dying to try it!

  11. Sadly,not all of CA looks like that!!! I wish-but then everyone would live here. I miss living in San Diego but it wasnt affordable anymore. There is something about the beach.

  12. Who cares about the spelling of Montecito except people from Montecito? ;)