In summer 2011 I spent eight weeks working at a summer camp in West Virginia before doing some travelling. The last stop on my list was California and when the day for me to fly out of Pittsburgh International Airport came around I couldn’t have been any more excited. I was going to stay with some lovely friends and knew it would be a brilliant week, to say the least. My flight was mad; first of all, we got told we were going to be delayed but then they gave us another flight’s plane so we got away on time, but it had the wrong crew on it so we had to hang out for a while; I’ve never seen a bunch of more chilled out people on a plane. There was a Dad wearing a Hawaiian shirt sat next to me, a girl brought her dog with her, and across the aisle there was an orthodox Jewish family with 4 small children and a baby (this baby was adorable but did cause me to end up wearing ear plugs, as every time I had just dropped off to sleep it would start screaming).
It was dark by the time we flew in over Los Angeles but this gave me the most gorgeous view of the LA skyline, the few skyscrapers that the city has claimed as its own standing out in the darkness.
I could bore you with all the details of the entire trip but I’ll skip to the last day. We headed to Pacific Beach and parked on what I now know is called Oliver Street. Half way to the beach we passed a house where a girl was sitting outside and asked for some directions. I, being the seasoned traveller, made a quick judgement, decided the girl was trustworthy, and asked to use her bathroom as I was absolutely bursting for a wee. So I hopped over her wall, followed by one of my pals, and used her bathroom (don’t worry, my pal didn’t follow me in there…) before we were on our merry way again.
I can’t lie, Pacific Beach isn’t the most stand up place in Southern California, I’d even go as far as saying it did seem pretty trashy. But it was my last day in California, the sun was out, I was with my pals, and we were having a blast.
Sometimes, when I get bored, I look up places I’ve visited on Google Street View, and today I looked up Pacific Beach and found the exact route we took back to the car. I found the house we stopped at, and the original route we had take to get down to the beach.
I didn’t take any photos the day we went to Pacific Beach. I think we get so bogged down in technology that we forget what things feel like, we don’t want to put in the effort to remember, and we spend all our time just looking mindlessly at photos. We don’t take ourselves back to the smells and sounds of a place. We focus so much on thinking, “I can’t wait to upload this to Facebook!” Why? Why on earth do we do that? Is it so we can make people think we’re living an amazing life because we know they don’t see the days when we spend every waking hour just sitting on our bums watching bad television and eating junk food? Facebook could be used for really great things, like sharing music or important news articles, or things we create, but instead, like spoilt children, we use it to say, “Look at what I did, it’s far better than anything you’ll ever do!”
It’s so horribly sad.
Even if that’s not what we intend it’s just so subconscious. “Look at my life!” we shout, “It’s going so well!”
I adored the time I spent in California. Yes, I did upload photos, but my favourite thing is the memories I made there, the things that happened that changed me, that became a part of me, that I can’t document in an image. I’m still the carefree, fun girl who used a random strangers bathroom in Pacific Beach, but there’s no way for me to post a personality trait on Facebook. The best things we do with our lives will be the things that make us who we are, the things we put time and effort into, the things that make us grow, the things that we don’t feel the need to tell everyone about because they shine through us.