i am sitting at a table inside of a coffee shop in azusa on alosta ave. i spent hours in this exact chair every single week - writing papers, crying with friends, listening and learning all the same. i am typing on the same laptop i used to get through my classes, to write those papers, to apply for jobs. it's equal parts refreshing and surreal to sit here again. the college students around me look like children, but they also look so focused and driven and full of life. there seems to be a lot more around here than there used to be, and yes i am raging with jealousy that NOW they have a pinkberry and a chipotle across the street. ridiculous. it feels foreign to walk through the mods, so i walked on the sidewalk instead. my wedding ring caught the light and i remember that there was a time where i walked this same path feeling completely alone in the world. i remember jaywalking from Bowles to Starbucks, because crosswalks are for the birds. i've choked my way through the 3 mile loop around campus, because running is for certain kinds of people, and i was not that people. four years seems like a lifetime ago, and the differences here are breathtaking.
and yet, the coffee tastes like it always did, and it smells like california here. not the beach, not the sunshine, not the smog -- but yes, all of it combined. there are tan lines everywhere in the same places i used to have them - from rainbow sandals and razor-back shirts and very aggressive v-necks. there are backpacks and language barriers and iced thai teas and people selling oranges on the side of the freeway. the people next to me ask questions about my books and my coffee choice. people are friendly in a different way here, in a way that reminds me why i love meeting people. there are intense stories here, stories i thirst for. california is definitely weird at best, but the people here sure do know how to connect with one another on the deepest level in the simplest forms.
i'm always most acutely aware of the change i've experienced once i come back to a place i used to belong. there's something substantial about walking the same streets as you did when you were a different version of yourself. and that's where i'm at right now; allowing myself to be a different version of myself, in this place that is all too familiar. and it cripples me with joy to be in this city that i love so much. i am 100% thankful for today, and for this coffee, and this chair, and these people around me.
and that's all, for now.