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Published: December 7th 2012
Holly's Lighthouse Cafe
If you ever find yourself in Pacific Grove, CA (and I highly suggest that you do), you MUST eat at Holly's Lighthouse Cafe, 602 Lighthouse Ave. Make sure you check out the Specials board - and try my personal favorite, Apple Oat Pancakes.
This photo is four years old: Amy, me, and another childhood friend, Adrie.
People often ask me where I got the money to travel. Then they don’t believe me when I tell them that I worked for six months as a waitress in California. But, it’s true. Every single cent of my original travel budget came from bringing people their coffee, their eggs, their turkey sandwich on wheat, no pickle, no tomato, extra mayonnaise on both sides, extra mayonnaise on the side. Whatever people wanted, I brought them with a smile (even if it only lasted as long as I could turn my back in some cases), and it paid well.
I worked at a small town café owned by my honorary mother, Holly, and managed by my best friend and honorary sister, Amy. With its family vibe and homemade food, it was a great place to work, and still is a great place to eat. On slow days, I could enter into lengthy conversations with customers, and often, the topic would revolve around my past and future travels. When I told people that I was going to India, their eyes and mouths would open into O’s of surprise; incredulity visible in the former, and bits of omelette in the latter. “Oh!" they'd
Lover's Point Beach
Just a few blocks walk from Holly's.
exclaim, "It's like that movie… whatsitcalled?... You know, the one where Julia Roberts goes to India…” I’d smile and, hoping that I didn’t sound too exasperated by the comparison, say, “Eat, Pray, Love
? Yeah… something like that…”
I hadn’t seen the movie, and although I’d handled the book years ago as an employee at Barnes and Noble
, I hadn’t read it and didn’t plan to. Until, one day, I happened to see the book lying on Amy’s bedroom floor. This chance sighting should be taken as nothing short of a miracle, as Amy’s room generally looks as if a tornado has ripped through it – the floor is strewn with clothes, dishes, loose change and shoes that long ago lost their partners. I picked the book up, curious to figure out why everyone was always putting me and Julia Roberts in the same basket. I made myself comfortable and started reading.
For the rest of the day, my only movement was to turn pages and wipe away tears, as I read about another woman suffering my
pain, fighting my
battles. The parallels between Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of the book) and I were so much more than just
a trip to India. We were both blonde, overly sentimental Cancers who loved to travel and talk to people. We both had nephews who we loved more than words could describe. And we had both emerged out of a desperate love looking like a skeleton, and looking for answers.
Once I embarked on this trip, the parallels continued. Instead of Italy, I ate my way through the Middle East, arriving in India 20 pounds heavier. In that wonderful, diamond-shaped country, we both meditated for months, and learned to let go of hurt and negativity. And we both had set our eyes on Indonesia as our next destination. But, here, our stories start to differ. In Indonesia, Gilbert searched for balance between the pleasures of life and spirituality; I wanted to search for the best diving sites. In the end, Gilbert went; I won’t. No, for me, it’s time to go home.
For months, there have been signs pointing me home. To be honest, I wrote this note in April and I’ve been waiting ever since for all the conditions to be right to publish it. When the dancing job fell through, it was clear that the time was
finally right. There are many reasons that this move makes sense. Chief amongst them – but, in actuality, of least importance to me – is a complete lack of funds. I could keep on moving and get a job diving, or teaching, or doing 101 different things, as per the original plan, but I can’t fight it anymore. I don’t want to move. I want to go home.
Instead of buying a one-way ticket from India to Costa Rica, it’s cheaper – and more fun – to travel back in stages. So, on December 30 (the last day of my Indian visa), I’ll be flying to Istanbul for New Year’s. After a few days there, I’ll return stateside to visit one of my dearest friends in the freezing cold of the American Northeast. Then, I’ll get on a plane to Costa Rica, where my family, friends and a job as a science teacher are already waiting for me.
My tickets bought, it’s hard to keep my excitement at bay. Normally, I don’t really get excited. I definitely look forward to
things, but I rarely get excited
. Because once excitement enters the picture, can’t wait
is never far off.
And once can’t wait
settles in, time starts to move verrrrryyyyy slllooowwllly. I’ve always thought that it’s better to live in the present than in anticipation. I can’t help myself though. I let my mind run wild into the future – it eats Turkish Delight in the Spice Market; it hits the ski slopes of Vermont; it hugs my nephew, my brother, my mother, my father, my dog, and it puts on a bikini without a feeling of impropriety and goes to the beach. I even let it fantasize about drinking water directly from the tap. There’s no denying it, I can’t wait
to go home!
Although this story doesn’t end like Gilbert’s with finding my true love (or, maybe it does – it’s not over yet), my story does end with love. I’ve fallen in love with love, in all its myriad forms. I see glimpses of it all around me and I rejoice in every one. And now, when people compare my story to Eat, Pray, Love
, I’m no longer annoyed by my apparently clichéd life. Instead, I take solace in the knowledge that, in essence, we’re all the same. There may be hundreds, thousands, millions of people on the path in front of me, and many more behind, but for now, I’m alone in a clearing, just breathing.
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