Unwelcome Home Coming

Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose. Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.

We took our time tracing the curves and bends of California; a week in San Francisco, a few days in Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, a week in Monterey.

After a beautiful clear day sailing along the Big Sur coast, we tucked into San Simeon, the little cove at the foot of Hearst Castle you pass on Highway One.

It’s the place Jason and I always wanted to visit and, as a result, we celebrated with a very frigid skinny dip before sailed off again.

We traveled to Morro Bay, Avila Beach, and finally Cojo Anchorage, the spot south of the notoriously rough Point Conception, which we thankfully rounded on flat, calm seas.

That night, the meteor shower was infinite.

We watched as meteors glittered across the sky, our necks stretched and mouths wide open, barely able to keep track of them all.

We pulled the anchor at six in the morning, just in time to make coffee and watch first light dissolve the starry night into morning.

Sight Unseen

But an hour later, the late September fog set in wrapping us so tightly we had zero visibility forward the bow let alone any sight of land.

So we put our faith in the chart plotter to guide us, narrowed our eyes to the fog, and motored south.

I climbed on top of the cabin and clung to the mast to get a better view.

Mid squint, I wondered how it would feel to return home.

As excited as I was to visit Santa Barbara again, I was a little apprehensive.

True, it would be great to see friends, visit family, and fill our bellies with Ah Juice, Renaud’s, and Empty Bowl, but I knew once we pulled into the marina, this epic journey would cease to be ours alone anymore.

Around one in the afternoon, still visually impaired, we heard the fog horn on the breakwater of Santa Barbara harbor.

We just missed a few fishing boats zooming back into the marina but Jason navigated between the breakwater and Fisherman’s Wharf the way a true third generation Santa Barbarian would do.

The fog lifted immediately like a thick velvet curtain yanked opened to reveal a new world untouched by the haze, illuminated.

The Santa Inez Mountains stood tall and proud, the palms on Cabrillo Boulevard swayed in the wind, and in every direction, people played in the sun.

As you know, it’s the kind of beauty that’s hard to explain.

It can’t be captured in a painting or picture or poem and trying to describe it here would undermine its magnificence.

Throughout our journey from Washington, we compared every town to her but of course, none came close.

Santa Barbara will forever be the jewel of California and lucky for us, it felt like home.

Haters Gonna Hate

But connecting with friends was a different story.

Up until now, our lives centered on the weather and our days were planned on the wind and conditions of the sea.

We got up with the sun and went to bed by the moon and nine times out of ten, we were truly unaware of what day it was.

But back home, our friends had schedules and, rightfully so, wanted to make plans.

With our feet on land and our heads still at sea, we couldn’t give them a straight answer:

“How long will you be here?”

“We don’t know.”

“Where are you going next?”

“We don’t know.”

“How far will you travel?”

“We. Don’t. Know.”

The reunions were interesting.

Some friends were happy for us and some weren’t.

For example, as we shared stories of our journey down the coast, particularly the rough times, a handful of friends listened with warmth and understanding, while others nodded with smug looks on their faces as if to say, I told you so.

I realized this journey had brought me to the next chapter in my life and with a heavy heart, I questioned whether this chapter would include a few people I once loved.

But this also meant a new beginning.

I met new people and reconnected with others that inspired me in the short time we spent together.

Though Santa Barbara felt comfortable and familiar, I looked at my past life here with sentimentality and my present life with a changed perspective – Full of possibilities and a fresh narrative to explore.

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