Someone once told me a good life is one that can be encapsulated in a series of postcards. The person that taught me this was a complete stranger I met when I was travelling abroad and haven’t met him since then. It doesn’t matter though because what he said that day changed by perspective about the kind of live I want. That’s why this past December I took a roadtrip with my best friends to a plethora of cities where we didn’t know a single soul. That trip changed us in more ways than we ever anticipate it could and made us realize the need to take a road trip where we can discover our inner selves.
First Stop On The Road Unknown.
The first stop on the map road was Venice Beach, where we met a foreign family that told us about the emotional integrity of street art and the LA Art District. The next day, we wandered into the artistic cosmos of juxtaposing colours, leitmotifs, cultural philosophies, and diverse boutiques and street cafes. There we met a struggling artist from Seattle that also happened to be a part-time coffee connoisseur. He taught us about the budding espresso lounge culture in LA that was reminiscent to European coffee bars. We ended up spending most of the afternoon coffee bar hopping; regularity for the locals, but something we have never been accustomed to.
The last stranger we met that day was probably still the one that lingers the longest in my memory because he shared a piece of his life to us; people he didn’t know yet trusted enough to make an intimate connection. He was a young, attractive man and once upon a time was a former track star at UCLA that gave up on his Olympic dream after he hurt his knee in an accident. He built his life again, starting from scratch with a new dream and new end goal. There was something about the spirit in his eyes that was captivatingly inspirational.
In hindsight, it seemed like a chain of events unfolded where we met one stranger that ended up taking us to another until we finally met him. Someone that didn’t want anything in return, no selfish intentions or ulterior motives, but a gentle soul that urged us to explore the vast nuances of LA. It’s almost as if each of us are connected by an invisible string. All lost souls meant to find one another to share and learn from sagacious experiences.
Go To The Unexpected
To really know the magic and true essence of a city, you have to go beyond the branded, household names and step into the unexplored. Every morning, we started the day at a new brunch place that embodied a different element of LA. Lunch at small, authentic restaurants that showed us the ethnic heterogeneity. Pausing for cold pressed juice and ice cream cones. Ending the day at wine bars for more of the modern LA vibe.
Each of these places was unique in its ambiance and aura and allowed us to saunter outside of our comfort zone. There was even a moment where we jumped off of a cliff into the ocean because there is a constant pursuit of adventure when exploring new terrains with friends. Companionship and trustworthy alliances make the unfamiliar less daunting and more enlivening. It becomes a humbling, enlightening experience when you can see that the world is enormous and we are just a sliver of something much vaster. There’s so much for the senses to absorb and engage with; different ethos, urbanities, traditions, and natural floras. It allows you to break the feeling of being caged in by normalities and emptiness of the mundane routines of everyday and ascertain profound sense clarity.
Intimate Moments That Last Forever
There’s nothing more intimate than a road trip, where some secrets will forever be yours and no one else’s. There will be a day or two of tears remembering lost love and heart breaks. But there will be nights for the wild child and harmless flirtation with a James Dean rebel type. One of your friends will bring bottles of tequila and cheeseburgers in the middle of the night as the 3 of you dance to Rihanna in your underwear, while the other drags you to the famous bungalow masquerading as a bar at 3am. We’ll walk down Hollywood Boulevard and try to find all the famous stars in the cement and figure out who the other less known ones are.
We’ll drive down the winding coastal highway and chase the sunset. We’ll take a detour to a forbidden trail just to catch a tiny glimpse of the ocean. There will be hours locked in a car with Chainsmokers playing as we talk about all things girls are told is taboo or unheard of: things we hate about our bodies, things we love about ourselves, questioning the future, knowing we don’t necessarily have our lives together, secret crushes on men that are taken, and cultural pressures of being single, 20 some year olds.
And we’ll share the dark, sinful sides of us that every good girl has but is afraid to let out. In the end, there is a mutual understanding that everything that has passed. The inside jokes, the follies and clumsy missteps. The handsome liaisons, secret glances and midnight kisses with strangers. The slow undoing of our inhibition will always be in a secret travel diary shared among us and stored away in our memories. That’s the most enthralling part of a road trip with your best friends – having a story that is your own.
Finding Yourself While You Lose Yourself
I’ve often heard people say that you can never be completely whole again because you always leave a piece of yourself with people you met and places you visit. LA was the first trip I took after my first real heart break and my friends ended up acting as catalysts to helping me find closure. And I did, I went to Manhattan Beach two days after New Year’s, wrote a letter of everything I ever needed to say and let it plunge into the Pacific.
I ended up leaving LA with much more than I came with, but I have forever left a tiny piece of myself on that pier. Now that void is filled with a memory of the cold, salty breeze, the roaring waves, the strawberry pink skies before the sunrise and a promise to myself to move forward and grow stronger. I figuratively took a piece of the city with me and left an inch of me there. The strangest truth of the matter is I found my closure thousands and thousands of miles from home, in a place I’ve never knew or had no connection with it.
Yet something happened that day, my friends said something that forever changed the way I viewed travelling: a road trip is a journey. You start from point A and go to point Z with minor pit stops (some planned, others spontaneous) that teach you the meaning of moving forward. On the way you learn that the best moments were never the ones that dealt with reaching the destination, but it were the moments in between and taking the paths less travelled. It’s a story that encourages the closure of one chapter so you can be empowered to start writing a new one.