Since 2012, it’s become an unofficial tradition of mine to visit California about once a year. I’ve had years where I’ve gone to the state more than once, and also once or twice where I wasn’t able to go at all. Still, because of my familial ties to California, to not visit is more of a rarity now.
In 2017, I didn’t go to California. At all.
In December of 2017, I decided that it was time to go back to see my sister, her kids, her family there, and to see what one of my favourite spots in the world is currently like. For most of 2017, I didn’t really want to visit the US (for obvious political reasons). I booked my flight, and in late January, left the cold in Canada for about 3 weeks.
The thing that hasn’t ever happened to me before in Southern California, happened to me this time. I was told off by a random woman, for no real reason. I was minding my business in a store, when I noticed that I was being stared down by an angry-looking woman who then proceeded to spew some negative words. I joked with my sister that she must have been upset with herself in some way, but I honestly felt like her hostility was racially-charged. I’m a polite person (it’s the Canadian in me), but when someone disrespects me, I have no problem standing up for myself. This upset me for a good 30 minutes. After the fact, I came across too many consistently kind, happy, and helpful people, to stay mad. Honestly, most of my experiences in California have been like that; people are generally very nice and happy. I have to admit that before this trip, a part of me actually was worried about travelling to the US (because of their newest president) as I had no idea if I’d deal with this kind of thing. I’ve been to the US so many times before, have a lot of American friends, and had never felt anything other than completely comfortable before.
As my uber driver – who took me from my work spot back to my sister’s house – said, “people aren’t really coming to the US as much right now because of what’s going on”. I nodded, because although I was there visiting, there is some truth in that. Although I already have plans to go back to a different part of the US later this year, I’ll still probably feel a bit on edge if anything like that happens again. Hopefully, I won’t have a reason to.
However, most of this trip was amazing. I got to spend most of my time with my sister and her kids. I’m incredibly attached to her kids. The love I feel for those kids is protective, and I know (and my sister knows) that I’ll always be there for them. This time, it was even harder to say goodbye to them. Putting the youngest to bed, waking her up from her nap and just letting her lay on me, I experienced a brief moment of what motherhood must feel like. What real love must feel like. I’ve been called a robot before, almost jokingly, but while I don’t always outwardly show my love in ways some girls do (which is something I wish I was better at), I’m still affectionate with those I love. I believe, especially, in positive affirmations. And kids remind me that we are shaped by the thoughts and things we have and hear around us.
Although, I’m definitely not ready to be a mom any time soon (seriously… give me a few years!), being an aunt is fun. And that’s what my trips to California are all about: family love.