California’s love is too good

By Dan Martynowicz

I’ve never had a real spring break vacation. At least, not the ones you see on MTV where everyone is topless and drunk on a beach.

For my last semester of college, I decided to throw caution (and all my money) to the wind and spent a week on the beaches of Southern California.

The four days and five nights I spent in Orange County taught me something I never thought possible: There is a place in this world that is too damn perfect. It’s called California, and it’s beautiful in every sense of the word.

If you spent the week at home eating Doritos and watching Laguna Beach re-runs, feel free to live vicariously through me as I explain.

I was 1500 miles from anything familiar and got hopelessly lost three times. I didn’t care in the slightest with palm trees, sand and ocean surrounding me on all sides. There are worse places to get lost than paradise.

People are overly nice in California. It’s really disconcerting to knock a drink out of someone’s hand and watch them apologize to you. No one honks if you cut them off, everyone is talkative and by the end of the trip, we were actively looking for a jerk to bring a little balance. We didn’t find one.

The food was amazing, and the portions were huge. I’ve never had fresher meals, and the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten came from a place called Bomburger in Huntington Beach. It cost $5.

Making new friends was easy. I met some Australian college students on the first day. They called women “Sheilas” and beer cans “Tinnies.” As the sun was setting we drank rum on the beach and played football. Australians throw surprisingly tight spirals.

It was an incredible trip, but the best thing about California is also the worst thing.

You see, the better things got while in So-Cal the more I missed Chicago. It didn’t make sense at the time, but now that I’ve had a few days I think it was for a very simple reason. It wasn’t home. I missed my friends and family, I missed my dog and my truck. I missed knowing exactly where I was and where I was going. I missed having a deadline and responsibilities and people counting on me to get things done.

So on the last day, I walked barefoot to the Pacific Ocean to watch the sunset.

“You’re beautiful,” I said, “But I have to go.” As I turned to leave, a warm ocean breeze touched my neck. I smiled and went back home.