I didn’t want to leave… not this time. Leaving last year was like feeling your first heartbreak: cruel. There was something about that city that I wasn’t able to explain even though I tried a hundred times, and leaving on that July 3rd was like destroying all my joy. I knew my aspirations were bigger than spending the summer in Vancouver with people I love, I knew there was something way bigger ahead, but I was delicate and I wanted the company of those I cared about, only a little longer. Just a little bit more. I needed these random talks on the rocks next to science world like I needed these getaways weekends to Whistler. I needed these homemade pancakes, as well as these random skinny dipping in English Bay. But I also needed to see the ocean, the ones that allow you to surf. So I left.
That’s with red wine and best mates I have spent my last night under the Canadian West Coast to then leave at dawn. I never felt lonely and I knew it would not be any different this time, but I still felt a bit anxious when I heard the bus roar, a sign of moving forward. Being aware that the city that used to be my second home, may disappear into a place that I won’t even miss for the next weeks, even months.
I tried to close my eyes to slow down a bit, trying to do all these yoga tips found on google. How to deepen your breath. How to visualize you in the present and avoid the past. I am not a good yogini, so just fuck it.
My heartbeats went faster and faster when I realized that we were crossing the country: the USA. What would I say to the police officer when he asks me where I am going? What if I just don’t know it myself, and, I am not even technically legal over there, will he send me back to where I am from? All I know is that I am following the sea. He won’t dig that answer.
‘’Where are you going in California?’’. I mumbled a few words saying that I am going to a friend. A friend I met in Montreal, but unfortunately, I don’t know what he’s doing for a living cause he never told me, but no biggie, I am going to sleep at his place. How much money do I have? Mr. Officer, I am a grown-up girl now and I saved up exactly 1300$. Oh, you think it’s not enough for five weeks? Well, I don’t think neither, but hopefully it is, or I will eat much more tacos than what I expected. Or barely anything if I needed to. He then looked at me from head to toe like I was someone that wasn’t aware of real life and like he was wondering where my folks were. Well, they are back home waiting for me to give them a sign of life. You can’t stop a kid to follow his goals, no matter how illogical it may sound. He then gave me back my passport and allowed me to enter the country when I showed him the return ticket to Montreal. Did I really look like an illegal worker? Come on, I am chasing the waves, not the money.
The bus started again, leading us to our next destination: Seattle. That’s with a broken English that I asked my way and found myself sitting in a train after three hours wait. I was alone and it was too late – I was on my way to California. What seemed like an amazing adventure to me two weeks ago was now a hurtful future. Why did I wanted to go somewhere I didn’t know anyone? Sleeping on people’s couch, that’s so complicated and sketchy! Travelling with the only intention of surfing, but I suck at it. I don’t even need to pretend, I am not good. People in Quebec aren’t surfers starting until late, if they are one day. Why would I be an exception? The ocean was scaring me with its vastness and the unknown it takes you in. With the waves that capture you and trap you inside. The one that can steal your breath, steal your life away.
I used these 35 hours ride to think about it, as no Wi-Fi was available for the cheapest class. And without lying, I was kind of scared. Not because I was alone, but because it was the unknown. I didn’t knew what could happen and I am such a control freak. Usually, I would have a book with all the places and beaches I should go at, information about it and all the important stuff. But this time, it was different. My notebook was empty, blank space everywhere. The only thing you were able to find inside was one word: California. People think that if you go somewhere by your own, it’s because you’re strong. You know what you want and you go get it. That’s what I did, but a small part of me wanted to be back in the arm of my mom, apologizing for all the time I have lost talking about surfing and for a passion that was irrelevant for a small city girl like me. I didn’t do that though, I had too much pride. I kept my eyes on the window, following the landscape, and I told myself it would be fine. And, it ended just fine.
I arrived in LA at 9 pm. I got lost in the train station until I found the exit, then, a stranger I’ve been talking to for a while came pick me up. I admit it wasn’t bright, but definitely the easiest way to get to Huntington Beach instead of taking the bus. After a car ride of 45 minutes, it felt comfortable by now, like it was a friend: I didn’t want to leave no more. But my new home was calling me and it was almost midnight, I needed to go sleep. I never experienced Couchsurfing before, but I was excited for it. Meeting new people while having a place to stay for free, it wasn’t a bad idea, after all. It’s in a foreign city that he dropped me off in a dark alley. ‘’It’s fine, I will figure it out’’, I said. Bullshit! I don’t have any internet connections neither a cell phone that works and I don’t have my glasses to see the address, plus, it’s dark out so I can’t see anything. I will sleep outside tonight, it’s an evidence.
After searching for ten minutes while talking alone in French, I discovered the place I was sleeping in: a happy guy welcomed me in and offered me a beer. A beer, this is exactly the thing I needed. I accepted his Sapporo with pleasure and chatted with him for a moment, while stroking his dog. ‘’Why are you coming to California for?’’. I never liked to extend my answers about it, I knew it was for my own pleasure and mainly to make connections to launch my surf blog. Surf blog, when I am not even a good surfer yet. Does it make any sense? To me it did at the time, and that’s exactly what I answered him.
-So, where can I find the beach?
It’s far, you need to take the bus.
-I hate the bus, I want to walk, where can I find it?
From that street, you turn to your right and then you walk straight for 20 minutes, or a little bit more, until you see that restaurant, then you turn to your left and you continue straight until you see the beach.
At 6 am, I walked to the beach.
At 9 am, I found the beach.
It was supposed to take one hour, but I got lost. It allowed me to see palm trees though, and I love palm trees. Then, the real adventure was starting, I had to forget my dizziness.
It’s between a quick glance at shore and a quick nap on the crowded beach that I understood: all I have to do is live in the now. And, that’s what I’ll do.