Friday, March 27, 2009

Why I Love San Diego

Although my heart's a bit heavy from the events of this week, I'm finding a bit of peace in San Diego right now. Since today was a good day running around the city and my alma mater (and seeing two of my awesome professors, I'll present my San Diego blog that I promised detailing why I really love this city and why it holds a place in my heart.

It started when I was 1 and Mom, I guess, took a vacation down there. I only know this because I saw a picture at my college graduation – me with a backwards lid standing somewhere in Old Town (Bazaar Del Mundo). I guess we took another trip a few years later because I saw another photo that looked like me at 4 smiling somewhere. The seeds were planted early.

The first San Diego trip that I really remember was when Mom took me and my sister to the Princess Resort (now Paradise Point) when I was 8 or 9. That was a fun time because I remember in awe of how beautiful the resort was, how beautiful the sky was and just being able to hang around and enjoy the atmosphere. Mom still has a magnet from that trip and it just reminds me of one of the best weeks of my young life.

Of course, that was the infamous Sea World trip aka Attack of the Killer Sea Gulls. I had just bought some fish to feed some of the sea lions and next thing I know, I’m falling the floor as these gulls dive-bombed me like some kamikaze pilots. Lost all my fish and went crazy…not a pretty sight and definitely an embarrassing moment.

Another trip came in 1996 (I remember it well because it was during the week of the Democratic National Convention). We went to Sea World as we stayed on a 3-day weekend right before school. But the most ironic trip came the following year I think. We stayed at the Town and Country Resort for a week and my sis and I attended a bowling camp at the YMCA near us. Little did I know that I’d be coming back near the Mission Valley YMCA and get all too familiar with that part of town.

Which brings me up to 2001. I hadn’t been to San Diego since junior high and now my college counselor is telling me to apply to the University of San Diego because it’s similar to Pepperdine and what I like. Of course I never heard of the school and of course we take the journey and the rest is history. I accept the letter after much haggling and we all go to College Visiting Day and see a topless chick sunbathing…just one more piece of motivation for me to be there.

I wrote a poem about the excitement to leave – a series I continued before my sophomore and senior years. It only heightened the sense that I was ready for this next stage of life.

So I arrive to the campus in August 2002. I’ll never forget the day: I was the first to wake up and I threw open the blinds of our La Jolla hotel just taking in the view of my new city. It was a cloudy day and I remember listening to Incubus’ “Morning View” album as my Dad drove us up to campus. I remember the day so vividly that talking about it here would be a blog post in itself. But it was a day I wouldn’t forget…among the events were taking the last family picture of the four of us.

During my four years at USD, I discovered myself and a group of valuable friends. I created memories that will last forever: Watching the sunsets at Mission Beach and La Jolla, watching the Sea World fireworks show from a balcony, having real conversations with all kinds of folks. I’ll remember the taste of carne asada fries, fish tacos, a smoothie from Rose’s Donuts, the feel of Qualcomm Stadium and Petco Park. Sitting in Aromas, Maher Hall (my freshman dorm below), the Vistas and Manchester Village and feeling the vibes.

But what I loved most was San Diego had a culture of its own. It felt like a different world from Los Angeles although it was only two hours away. It was a different Southern California than what I was used to. It was a laid-back small town with a big city feel. There was an easy pace and rhythm that allowed you to feel welcome and find your footing. For the first time, I saw a city that was taken captive on Sundays by an NFL team. All of this made me feel like I was in the middle of something new and I loved every minute of it.

When I left, I was inspired to try to create my life in L.A. I wanted to get to know my city better and be able to be a better tour guide.

To me, San Diego will always be my 2nd home. It’s a place that I find peace in and it feels like that friend that you’ll never get tired of. I joked freshman year that I would get a place down here as a vacation home and who knows, maybe I still will. But it’s always been a place of clarity, pleasant memories and personal growth. Maybe that’s why the seeds were planted so long ago….I haven’t stopped taking care of this plant and it’s blossomed into a beautiful flower that I always carry with me.

1 comment: