I find myself in Santa Barbara, California for work… and I find myself falling in love.
Not with a boy, not with a dog, not with a band, but with the lifestyle. I’ve spent time enjoying palm trees as far as the eye can see, terracotta rooftops, cactus growing like shrubs, clear skies and amber sunsets as a backdrop to a sandy beach, and smiles on every street corner. Everything moves at a slower pace because no one is in a rush to do anything. A man on a street corner on the phone with his colleague was a rarity, and even then his conversation consisted of things like “I’m going to enjoy lunch and will get you an answer after my break.” The owners of an adorable Wine Tasting Room at the highest point of a pier off the Santa Barbara boardwalk talked passionately about their lives: their winery, the berries, the fermentation, hints of blackcurrant, wet rock, and white floral. They tasted the wine with us, went on the journey with us, and handed over a handful of corks as a reminder of this casual moment within which we enjoyed each other’s silence.
It’s a lifestyle I don’t find myself having the luxury of living in a city like New York City. Everything is urgent; every pace is rushed like a speeding car racing to get there first. Vacation is a distant thought, maybe even laughable because who has the time to take care of themselves? Lunches are always for working: taken at your desk or on the phone or skipped all together. Small business owners seem few and far between. Not content with their “small business” but looking for ways to become bigger, better. It’s never about sustaining. It’s about beating. And silence is uncomfortable.
“This place, it’s like my home [Weston]… except on a beach!” I commented to my colleague over a glass of pinot noir as we watched the sunset over the water and squealed every time a pelican took a dive or a seal came up to play. Everything was idyllic. I left Santa Barbara longing for the free-spirited passion displayed by those living there.
We encountered numerous people talking fondly of “their years in New York” prior to moving to California. When asked would they ever return to NYC the answer was always an enthusiastic “No!” with a smile. The slower pace was calmer. Healthier. Easier.
As I sit on a Delta Air Lines flight listening to an album entitled “Peace, Love, & Ukulele”, I can’t help but wonder: despite all I have been awarded since moving to NYC (trips to London, Dubai, Jordan, Aspen, and now California), is there more? Am I missing something?
I’m on a journey to find out.