dreamin' {life}

I suppose I should tell you a bit about my history with California before we go much further. In the late 90s, immediately after he finished graduate school, Neel and I lived in San Diego for about six years while he did his post-graduate work. When we flew there for Neel's interview, I knew before our plane even landed that I'd come home. Callum was born there, and in more ways than one, Neel and I felt like we grew up there. I love where we live now, and we're so happy here in so many ways, but leaving San Diego was one of the hardest things I've had to do. We took Callum back over his Christmas break a couple years after we'd moved away and that was another one of the hardest things I'd had to do. I sat in this restaurant and cried so hard that our server actually asked me, "Ma'am, are you okay?" San Diego is the only place I've lived where I didn't think about living someplace else.

Pathetic, isn't it? This time, going back was a delight. I'll tell you about staying with our friends tomorrow and what wonderful hosts they were, but today I thought I'd show you some bits and pieces of our trip.

Our friend Mike gave us two great driving tours of L.A., which I never would have been able to do on my own. He was an awesome tour guide.

We climbed up into the Hollywood Hills and wandered around the Griffith Observatory. It was packed, but I could have spent hours there. The kids loved it too, just wandering around and watching the sun set over Los Angeles.

It's not a bad view.

Of course I took Callum to a Dodgers game (they lost).

And we took the kids to the Santa Monica Pier.

Mike's driving tours went past all the iconic L.A. sites.

Cal and I did the trip to Manhattan Beach to meet with Teri and Theresa on our own. I've always maintained that I continue to drive like a Californian here in Virginia, and I'm pleased to learn that this is, in fact, true.

We met at the Shade Hotel, and I would love to stay here sometime! Even the bathrooms were gorgeous! We eventually got booted out for a wedding, which would have been fun to stay and see. More than that I would have loved to have stayed and chatted with these two amazing women longer than we did. I could have stayed all day!

We shared a great meal (Theresa, we should have had champagne! Next time!) I have to thank Callum for being such a good sport by hanging with us (and being our personal photographer!) for so long and listening to all of our bloggy chatter. Teri has a gorgeous fall of brunette hair and Theresa wore these stunning braids wound into a bun that I'm still trying to figure out how to replicate. As you saw, Theresa was in red, of course (with tan and red nail polish...so stylish!), and Teri was beachy in chambray and white. Perfection. They seemed so easy together and we all felt easy with each other. Who would have known it would be like that? I should have known. Now I do.

Being with friends, the old ones and the new ones, was the best. That, and this. This view. That blue, blue ocean and those vistas. Every single moment of the trip was a dream (aside from the migraine I got on the first night, but I took care of that handily). And you know what's funny? We met some really cool people on the plane. Each time we were in a three-seat row, I sat next to someone cool. On one leg a momma with a seven-month old (she picked me and had her husband sit elsewhere because she figured I'd be patient with the baby!). On another, another mom, headed to CA to spend the weekend with her college-aged son who was working at a camp out there. I could see me in her someday. Although she was far more glamorous than I'll ever be! And on one of our last legs, we met a woman who was meeting her boyfriend's family for the first time. They'd been dating for four years and the whole family was hooking up for a vacation at some cabins at a lake over the Fourth. She thought he might propose! It kills me that I don't know what happened!

Our toes in the sand at the Pacific. Who could ask for anything more? Our first day home was the Fourth of July, and it was so nice to have Neel home with us all day. Cal slept late, and we scooted to the beach for a couple hours. It's a push to get Neel to the beach with us (He's a little like Erin that way.), and Callum and I were so grateful to bob away in the Chesapeake Bay with Papa for awhile. We told him all about the trip as the warm water gently lapped over us. We had a great time, and having been born there, Callum feels very connected to California. Neel asked him what he loved so much about the place, and Cal said this: "It's not something you feel with your brain. It's something you feel with your heart."