I spent nine days in Southern California for the holidays. As lovely as California is, I feel as though I missed out on a great many opportunities of adventure—Caliventures.
At the start of this writing, I’m sitting with my family at McCormick and Schmick’s (bleh) near LAX. It’s our last night in California before my brother and I return to our lives in Japan and New York City respectively. After hemming and hawing about going to Little Tokyo for dinner earlier that Wednesday, we end up at a chain restaurant near the airport. It wasn’t even 6 p.m. when the decision was made: it was “too late” and downtown was “too far” to get to. Unimpressed. I feel snubbed by the entire affair—which describes my general feelings about the entire trip.
To be fair, it’s been five years since my family has been together as a unit so with regards to that, it was great to be able to see everyone. It was great to visit California. I had moments where I experienced some internal joy but I did not particularly enjoy the day-to-day experience during those nine days. I felt a conflict of emotions. I was embarrassed. Disappointed. Sad. I don’t recall a genuine feeling of happiness.
Dear parents (or family in general),
Don’t ask visiting family members what they’d like to do during their visit, only to dismiss their ideas–especially if their suggestions are reasonable.
The first day in Camarillo, my parents asked me if there was anything I’d like to do during my visit. Did I ever. I wanted to visit a friend who lived in San Francisco (we were going to meet in Santa Maria). I thought a trip to Los Angeles would be a fun adventure. A picnic and/or hike in Los Padres National Park or on the beach at Point Mugu. A day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. A trip to Death Valley National Park or even Sequoia National Forest. Yosemite would’ve been fun but I knew that was a bit of a stretch. I also considered a trip to San Diego-my birth place (and where even more childhood friends live).
These suggestions were met with blank stares and a curt nod of the head. Acknowledged but nothing more. Then an excuse to justify not doing them.
Visiting my friend in Santa Maria required borrowing my mom’s car. That didn’t sit well with them. Instead, they said my friend ought to take public transit and visit me in Oxnard. San Francisco was too far of a drive just to meet up with a friend, they implied.
Los Angeles is hell to get into and it’s not safe to walk around.
Hiking or merely picnicking at the parks were out of the question for whatever reason. The parks were too far away. There was a general lack of enthusiasm for going to the parks. There was a hint that Joshua Tree or Sequoia would be a fun trip, but that was all. A hint. And that was that.
It was an unexpected disappointment that my suggestions to hike and picnic at the parks were dismissed. I was raised on outdoor adventures. Camping, fishing, beach-ing, skiing, and snowboarding.
I didn’t even ask about San Diego.
Am I missing something? It definitely feels like it. There’s a noticeable gap in the way my parents treat me compared to the way they treat my brother. There’s a noticeable gap in connection. I can’t quite put my finger on it but… is this what being out of the loop feels like? Is this what happens when you leave home after high school and your brother stays put?
to be continued…