We all have third places. Those spaces that we spend most of our time after work and home. They are the locations that we find community, satisfy curiosity, or just feel right in the world.
One of my third places requires a two-hour plane ride to get to. When some dear friends announced they were moving to San Diego five years ago, I was heartbroken. They were one of the couples that I most admired, and they had a funny, energetic, sweet toddler going with them. At one of their going away parties (there were multiple), I was literally sobbing at the thought of not seeing them again. Then I was reminded how close their new home was to where I was attending graduate school courses twice a year. And a plan was born: survive two weeks of class and be rewarded with a reunion before heading back home.
Even after I completed graduate school, trips continue to see these friends, or should I say family members. Every visit has the same basic wish list: a beach, another beach, another beach, and In-N-Out. As long as my toes touch the sand and my tongue tastes a double-double mustard grilled, I’m set.
Really what I love most about these trips is about how I get to slip into their everyday lives. During one visit I watched their daughters’ swim lessons. And during another I babysat while the parents went for groceries. There are adventures (like Sea World this last trip) and also the family traditions like a movie in the living room (Moana is way better with 5 and 7-year-old commentary).
San Diego, with the spare room at my friends’ home, is my home away from home.
“We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron, Star Wars: The Last Jedi). – #52sparks is my year-long writing series for 2020, based on an art prompt challenge. The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. This series is to explore what hundreds of inches and words can do.