Tales from the West Coast

March 8, 2011
Summertime in California is something wonderful. Luckily for me, I get to experience it every year. From my spot on the beach, I can see sailboats pass by, hear the eternal roar of the ocean, feel the suns warm glow like a giant invisible blanket on my skin. Living by the beach has some major perks.

“Hey, pass the sun block before I start to crisp,” says my best friend Alice lying on the towel next to me.
Today is the first day of our long time tradition of what we call “beach affair”- basically tanning, people watching, more tanning, body surfing, etc. Very cliché, we know. But somewhere in-between buying new swimsuits and playing Frisbees with the cute local guys, we decided we couldn’t care less.
“Good thing the beach never goes out of style” I say jokingly, “Or we’d be out of luck- and out of plans”
“Yeah no doubt about it sista’. Hey, so, since its summer I thought we could make a resolution for ourselves, you know, before we start our senior year.”
“What did you have in mind exactly?” I raise my eyebrows at Alice. Knowing the way her mind works, this could potentially be bad.
“Trish don’t give me that look! I’ve actually took the time to think this plan through, just for you”.
Oh, ha ha. I like to be logical, which is something my friends find inconvenient or just sad.
“I want this summer to be memorable- after high school things aren’t gonna be the same, and I feel like this might be our last legitimate opportunity to make some memories-just me and you, ya know?”
“Yeah, I see your point.”
As bad as it sounds, I hate thinking about life after high school. Not that I don’t think there are great opportunities out there for me, but adjusting to change is not something I’m good at. That’s why Alice and I have been doing the same thing for the past three summers. Total rebels right here.
“I think this summer should be different-we should go on a road trip!” She lights up, one of those smiles that is so contagious you can’t help but smile back. A contagious smile-get used to them in California. “And don’t worry about the details because I have already laid out a plan for us to follow, it will take us through all of California.”
I nearly choke to death on my gum-all of California? Which takes up almost the entire West Coast? This girl has definitely inhaled too much spray on sun block.
“Wait, ALL of California? You’re not serious are you?” I ask her as she is busy digging some papers out of her neon blue tote bag. She is unfazed by my questions, as usual.
“Of course I am! Trish, don’t you understand? We’ve lived in California our whole lives, and we’ve never been farther than Disneyland! Doesn’t that make you sad? Don’t you think we’ve hurt poor California’s feelings?” She jokes, trying to lighten the mood. But my mind is buzzing with questions- Where the h*** will we stay? Who’s going to drive? Whose car are we going to drive in? Where the heck am I going to get money for a road trip? Why is my best friend a part time lunatic? But I don’t bother asking them. I let her finish talking.
“So, I figured the trip in its entirety would take us two weeks- Oh, and when I said ALL of California, I really just mean up to San Francisco-but with plenty of detours on the way, okay? You know Hollywood, L.A., and some of those corny wax museums!” Alice is glowing with excitement as she talks- its obvious she’s been concocting this plan for some time and was waiting for the right time to tell me.
“As far as expenses go, it won’t be as much as I anticipated- especially if we just share a hotel room instead of buying two. And gas won’t be a problem if I can convince my mom to let us use her battery operated car.” Wow. This girl has covered her bases. I am impressed.
“Alice,” I say “Exactly how long have you been planning this trip?”
Dead silence from her. Oh, no.
I turn to her. “Alice? What up?”
“Um, well I just wanted us to have some fun before senior year started.”
“Really? That’s the only reason you planned this trip? This huge trip that I am just hearing about? Seriously now, what’s on your mind? ”
She sighs heavily. “I’m going to New York after high school. I’ve decided to take advantage of the scholarship that Julliard gave me.” Her eyes meet mine. She is waiting for me to react. I am stoic; it takes me a minute to register what she just said. New York? That’s on the other side of the country, right?
“Trish? Trish you okay? Say something!”
She looks desperate as she urges me to speak. I can’t help it; tears well up in my eyes. My best friend since first-grade is leaving in less than a year.
“Wha—why?” I muster. “Why can’t you stay here? You love it here! You grew up here and all of your friends are here!”
As I start to ramble off lame excuses, I start remembering all the subtle hints she gave me-how she sometimes talked about Julliard and how her grandmother went there, how she took a trip there with her family and memorized all the landmarks, theatres and tourist attractions and pointed them out to me in the pictures she took. They say hindsight is 20/20- that applies to me now. I never paid attention to all the signals she gave me because I never realized she would want to leave California. It didn’t seem like a real option-just an idea, something to play around with but only to be cast aside and forgotten about.
“I do love it here! More than anything in the world- believe me. But I think that if I didn’t go to New York, I’d be throwing away a huge opportunity. I don’t want to wake up in twenty years and regret that I didn’t go to Julliard and pursue my dreams of becoming an actress. That’s not something I want to live with, you understand?”
“Sure.” I say. “Whatever makes you happy, that’s all that matters.” My words drip with sarcasm. My once sad feelings have now turned angry and bitter, my form of defense.
“Trish, lay off” she spits back. “I want to move forward with my life- so sue me! What did you think was going to happen after high school?”
“Not this obviously! You could’ve told me sooner you know, maybe then I would’ve been a little more supportive” I retaliate. This isn’t good, we never fight like this.
“Yeah, right.” Alice rolls her eyes and picks up her towel and bag. “Do you want me to apologize for doing something I want for once? Do you want to tag along when I leave next year?” She is standing up, her voice rising with anger.
I remain on my towel silent, face turned towards the sea.
“Okay, real mature Patricia.” She turns on her heel and walks off toward her car. “Call me when you get over yourself.” She slams her car door and speeds off toward the freeway, toward home, toward reality.

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