When my grandparents moved out of my hometown ten and half years ago to join us at the beach, I had absolutely no reason to ever return to where I was born and raised. By that time I had made my escape two years prior and was living in Newport Beach, a far cry from (what I unfairly perceived as) cookie-cutter concrete suburbia. With the family together at the coast, I swore I would never step foot in Whittier again.
Until this summer.
I did my time in the early Eighties as a student at an elementary school called Ocean View. (Ocean View will never have a view of the ocean unless California breaks apart during "the Big One" and floats out to sea as predicted by alarmists and The History Channel). And it was there, thirty years ago, that I entered third grade and became friends with the cute, shy, new boy at school named Michael who would grow up to be the love of my life.
Michael and I reconnected this June — twenty three years after our last encounter as teenagers at the Whittwood mall. We'd gone to different high schools after eighth grade, so a year had passed since we'd seen each other. He had gotten tall, and I had gotten pregnant.
Our love story is adorable and epic and awesome and we tell it to anyone who is standing still. And it will have its glory here on the blog in the future. In the meantime, if you want a taste: toss together a John Hughes, Nora Ephron and Nicholas Sparks movie in a blender and garnish with your favorite paranormal romance.
Because my life follows the formula of a hit premium cable dramedy series, Michael and his entire immediate family still live in Whittier. Which meant my melodramatic proclamation of disowning my birthplace came back to bite me in the ass. Almost exactly like when I declared I'd never go see another Transformers movie after Revenge of the Fallen — oh wait — I've kept that promise.
Before making an appearance in my original 'hood, I wanted to make amends with my adoptive hometown of Corona del Mar. I had not been back since moving to Anaheim. I had been afraid visiting would make me depressed and desperate to make CdM home again. After all, it had been a dream come true to live there.
So Michael and I drove down to the beach — where I immediately felt like a foreigner. I moved away from Corona del Mar five years ago feeling like my connection to the sea had failed me. But standing at Inspiration Point, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I came to a surprising conclusion. I left that day with an appreciation for living there once upon a time, but free to leave it behind.
Now it was time to go where it all started. Entering the city limits of Whittier was like a homecoming. Michael and I were back on our turf together. And the trip would not be complete without dropping by Ocean View Elementary School. Ever since childhood, I imagined a life destined with love, family and happiness by the sea. I've come to realize that view wasn't completely incorrect. I just had the wrong ocean in sight.