Santa Barbara, CA


June 14, 2019

Driving North along the Pacific Highway I feel defeated and upset. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I could do what I’ve done, I’ve seen precious places I always thought I would never see, and most of all I added an amazing experience and stories I can tell to whomever wants me to tell them. I keep on feeling nothing whenever someone gets surprised and asks: you did this alone? You’re such a brave woman. I am not. It’s just who I am. Courage has nothing to do with what I’ve done and what I’m doing. I believe that, when you have nothing left to lose, whatever you do is just fine. You couldn’t have done otherwise, so what’s the big deal? But then this is just because in this very moment this is how I feel. An hour from now I may be staring at myself at a restroom’s mirror in a remote gas station in Southern California, thinking: you did it. You road tripped with poor Sienna falling into pieces but you did it, and now you’re back.

I am back. Back to square one, and I can automatically feel the weight of the world dragging me down again. What’s the next step now? Where did my freedom go? I need to sit and listen to what the ocean has to say. Before reaching Los Angeles, I stop at Dana Point and let the waves calm me down for a couple of minutes on a gloomy morning. I let my mind go and I can hear the ocean speak. He said “just be patient you’ll make it through. It has all be given to you because you can handle it, you only have to hang in there and wait.” I told him I am tired of waiting. I told him I can’t take it anymore and I told him I want to go home. He said “this is home now, you’ll see”. I wasn’t talking about home in Italy. He wasn’t talking about home in California. We understood each other so perfectly. And I kept going.

I wasn’t ready to drive through my beloved city. I took an alternate route and went all the way North to Calabasas where a friend lives with her family. I’ll stay with them for just a few days before seeing LeoBear again. I’ll take care of the pup for a little while again, and hopefully my mind will go back to be working properly. I need that consistency I tried to build up during the Spring and during my boxing challenge, and now I kind of miss it.

On Sunday we drive up to Santa Barbara. Of course I take the chance to visit some more of this beautiful California, and I can’t miss the opportunity to see my Pacific whenever I can. Santa Barbara is a small town compared to what I was expecting. A typical beach town with the pier, but if you look around, what you can see is more than pretty. Mountains surround you from the South, East and North, while your West wing opens up to the ocean. And it’s magical. The only flaw is seeing those offshore oil drilling platforms in the distance, but there’s nothing I can really do about it so I’ll pretend I didn’t see, and enjoy the rest.

I’m afraid of what is expecting me in a month or so. I know I am cherishing my aloneness more than anything, despite those few moments I wish I could share with someone else. Traveling alone has solidified even more my independence and my “relative” freedom, so anything that crosses my boundaries makes me feel uncomfortable, as if I’m trapped in a cage. All I can do is just wait. Always. Wait. Patiently. Until I’m free and alone again. But until then, how do I cope with the “in between”?

Santa Cruz, you got me


June 11, 2019

The Mistery Spot, Santa Cruz and San Francisco

Warning, long post ahead.

How is it possible that I liked San Francisco but I loved Santa Cruz? If I had an answer for this dilemma I would not be here thinking about it. I woke up in San Jose, set the Google maps itinerary (is Google Maps working funny for you all as well lately? I mean, I can’t always think it’s my fault is something does not work properly right? Anyway…) and while chomping on cookies I got at Trader Joe’s (Yes, I found vegan cookies at Trader’s woot woot!) I hit the road to San Francisco.

Oh dear. The wonder I’ve seen. The marvels I am constantly seeing in this amazing journey!! Yes, of course I have my up and down moments, otherwise it wouldn’t be me, but overall, I give myself a pat on the shoulder “good job L, good job”. Another hot day in California, and keeping the car windows closed is the most obvious decision so you can blast the a/c but nope, I woke up relatively early and the sun is not up in the sky yet, so I’m going to heat this “body on the move” up and not only keep the front ones rolled down, but I will also sing and dance while driving. No worries, I am paying attention to what I am doing, eyes on the road, always. I am not sure if driving through Santa Cruz was eventually more of an instinctive decision, fate, or whatever, but when I clicked on “itinerary” and I chose “avoid highways” I knew I was doing something right. I passed through a couple Open Space Preserves, the golden of the hills was alternating with the green of the trees and the bright blue sky… but I forgot to fill up the tank.

Somewhere not even halfway through the route I saw the yellow light on, did not even notice when it actually turned on, and I automatically said “you’re stupid! You forgot to stop at the gas station. Every morning you must stop at the gas station!” out and loud, so that I could hear it from inside and outside of my head. I started praying the gods to get to the closest station as soon as possible. I found a Chevron (I usually stop at Arco’s for whatever reason!) and I immediately took the first exit and did my job. A little disappointed by my own disorganization (yeah?) I noticed I started beating myself up, and I forced myself to stop it because I did not want to attract any more negativity. Good girl. I checked the map at a certain point, while swerving through the turns in the middle of woods that were appearing out of nowhere: the only thing popping up as the map was not loading because of the loss of connection, was “The Mystery Spot”. Hmm. I slowed down and enjoyed the peace, the atmosphere of being Alice sliding down the Rabbit Hole, and no joke, seeking through radio stations, the radio automatically stopped at this classical music one playing a piece that was fitting the moment so well I almost got scared it meant some weird omen. You know what? Let’s check out this mystery stop. After all, I don’t have anywhere I HAVE to go, I am free to do whatever so, let’s play.

Oh dear lady, mother of all the gods, creator of the universe: where am I? This place is mind-blowing. Literally. Rules of nature do not apply, or better, those known to us. Either they created this space on purpose ( I know, I’m too skeptical but hey!), or it is true that it’s just something connected to the Earth, magnetism, aliens, whatever. I just know it gave a sense to this day and I am glad. Click on this and please, please, get to know more about it on their website, and plan to visit if you can. They call it a gravitational anomaly. I don’t care what it is. It could also be just a massive mere illusion I would still go there again, and again. I loved it. I loved feeling dizzy trying to figure things out. Having troubles moving, bend and still look like I am standing straight and still. I loved feeling drawn to this point even before I found it, and after, when trying all the little “experiments” the guide makes you do. But enough with the Mystery Spot. It would be too reductive for words so get informed. Google is a wonderful place for this.

With a smile on my face, a bumper sticker from the spot and classical music playing in the background, I’m off to Santa Cruz. Little parenthesis: tears of joy have only been shed so not often by these eyes, but sometimes, the bittersweet moments of being alive in a limited amount on time on Earth is frustrating, so pardon me for letting it go at the thought of our disgraceful mortality. Why? Because Santa Cruz got me. Time started flying back and forth, freezing every time I stopped to capture her colors on camera, waving back and forth like the Pacific Ocean every time I was remembering or picturing the future. Pleasant shattering of senses. As I saw the ocean from the distance, my heart opened and I could not wait to pass through the historic downtown (pretty as well) to go talk to him. Surfers and people like me, with their vans parked while enjoying the view were all around. Two men started talking to me, but depending on the time of the day, my mood, and if Saturn and Mercury are aligned or not, I could either take your approach smiling, or I’ll try to avoid you. The latter in this case. They said “Hi, beautiful day,…” yadda yadda, and I answered politely, probably not even looking at them, I just acknowledged their existence and felt their presence on my right side. I was too focused on seeing what I was seeing in front of me, and no, I wasn’t being rude. I’m an introvert and you can take it or leave it. I needed to speak to my ocean. Bye. I avoided eye contact on my way back to the car and left.

I changed radio station, windows completely opened and down Pacific Highway I went. Always looking left, trying to see as much as possible of this coast I so adore. I see myself through the mirror: playing with the warm wind slipping through my fingers, an image that takes me back to when I was a little girl, and sometimes, in the hot summer nights in Italy, my father would take us all for a “giretto” in the car to escape the heat and get some fresh air, driving up to the beach, smelling the salty breeze coming from the sea. I chuckle and I find another area where I feel like I need to stop. So I did, and I found an abandoned railway that was probably running along the coast, now forgotten, where a natural swamp formed around it on one side, with frogs, red and blue dragonflies and duckweeds. It’s on a cliff, so I keep walking through a field of tall wild flowers where the sparrows can sit and sing all around me. Unbelievable. At the edge I halt, cautiously, and I let the sound of the waves, hitting the rocks below me, scare me a little to remind me I could die if I fall. Bright blue sky over a bright blue ocean, divided only on my left side by the golden, white and ocher colors of the cliffs. Click. Click. More clicks. I sit on a bench (perfect spot for a bench, by the way!) and wait.

I leave with a sense of powerlessness. I am mad that I don’t own this land, but also Surfers Paradise in Australia, or the desert in Peru, or the green flatlands near Liverpool, or all the thousands places all over the world I wish were mine. All mine. Dang it. I stay angry for a second and then I think “you fool, this, all this, it’s all yours. Yours and of all the other silly humans walking on Earth.” It’s all for us guys, all for us, and I just wish more of us out here could reckon this and treat Mother Earth, with all her creatures, animals and humans included, with all the due respect. It’s for us. Be thankful. Ergo, with this feeling of gracefulness I kept driving North, along the Pacific waving at me (almost literally), in awe while going uuuup and doooowwn, leeeft and riiight along the curves… Pacific Highway, you have such a strong curvy body my love.

Wrooooo. Wraaawww. Bing. I don’t know how to represent in letters the sound of a ship horn alternating with weird beeps coming from afar, but I know it’s the typical sounds of the harbors, being from Venice I should know, but I am not an expert. This to say, I see you San Francisco!! You reminded me right away of a Lima, Peru, but in such a better shape. All those little houses lined up, spread out on hills surrounding the coast, well yes, a way way richer Lima. You too have your particular spots, so I look for a place where I can sit for a bit and recover from the drive, and all the amazing feelings wrecking my heart. Baker Beach is right next to the Golden Gate, so I think “why not?” quick break at the beach and then off to downtown. Public beach, full naked men here and there. Details. Freedom. I’m cool. The sand is literally burning, I can see a dog struggle while raising her paws one at a time, chasing a bird, leaving the shoreline while her human goes “Bailey, Bailey come back you bad girl!” – I laugh and root for the dog, but also hope she does not burn her sensitive pads.

Cute city San Fran. Cute. But it took me two hours to get out of downtown, so I won’t complain about LA traffic anymore, I swear. Jee, what a nightmare. People going literally crazy, cars hitting other cars, people shouting, “I saw you”, “you did this”, “uh uh, not my fault” and I was hungry and angry so, hangry, as they say. Thankfully this happened after I had a little fun going up and down the steep hills, praying the gods of the seven kingdoms to keep my breaks functioning, and then of course I had to see with my own eyes the famous Lombard Street. Cute. Really cute. Drove through it and took a video I posted on Instagram, and yes I just did it for the ‘gram because enjoying it in person would have been completely enough. Played some music, enjoyed the views, but I had enough. Being a road tripper in such a chaotic city is not fun, or not right now. I may go back for a quick vacation or so, but that was it. I looked for a place to spend the night at, and the following day I knew I wanted to go somewhere else, closer to nature, but I’ll see what the night will suggest.