Monday, August 1, 2011

24 hours in Oceanside

After sweeping my dear Darrell off his feet, twirling him around and holding on to him as though I would never let go, I finally persuaded my arms to release him, and then had to wait until he was ready to let me go. A year is a long time to not see someone you love, you know? After that, we stumbled over each other to talk: we both had so much catching up to do!

I couldn't believe I was only going to be in Oceanside, and in my son's company for one day! The original plan called for one week here before pushing on to Denver but he could not arrange his schedule to take any time off so I decided to head out to Denver and then come back to California, when Darrell would have more time for a good visit.

Unfortunately the elongated ritual of clearing customs meant that I missed the 6PM Denver-bound bus. Fortunately that meant that I got to spend my first 24 hours in America with Darrell and I couldn't imagine a better candidate to dedicate my first 24 hours stateside to.

Bear in mind that, in spite of the comfortable flight and the minimal sleep I did get aboard the plane I was still jet-lagged and flagging fast. Stopping for some food on the way to Oceanside helped somewhat and, of course the conversation and the excitement of actually being within touching distance of my son went a long way toward making me forget my personal discomfort. Nevertheless, exhaustion did overcome me and within an hour of reaching Oceanside, located approximately 2 hours south of L. A., I was sound asleep on the couch.

I didn't even hear Darrell, and later Samantha, his lovely girlfriend putter around in preparation for their day at work the next morning. I woke up totally refreshed at 9AM and was immediately besieged by my furry granddaughter, Zeva as she bestowed kiss after wet puppy kiss on me.

Much as I would have liked to play with Zeva all day while waiting for Darrell to come home I had things to do. First order of business: shower the travel dirt off and then walk down Vista Way to the nearest shopping center for some essential things, like hair dye and yogurt.

Yes, I considered hair dye an essential. After being Uber Blond for 10 months I considered it of utmost importance to color my hair properly at the first opportunity. And this was the first opportunity. To tell the truth, I wasn't about to parade around the United States with that hair a minute longer than I had to.

Walking is not a big deal to me; I walk everywhere in Wuhan. Apparently it is a big deal to Californians. I had the sidewalk to myself as I first left the attractive apartment complex my son lives in and then down the main road. Matter of fact, it didn't register the day before but, now that I think about it I saw very few pedestrians either in L.A. or in Oceanside. I'll write more about that later. Right now someone is honking their horn. I turn to see who it is and...

Behold Darrell! Done with work for the day, he was headed home at the fastest clip possible to see his beloved Mama, only to find her walking along Vista Way. He pulled up in the parking lot whose entrance I was currently traversing and, with a huge grin threw open the passenger door for me and drove me to the shopping center.

But not before we had a good laugh.

As it turns out the parking lot whose entrance I was crossing when he pulled up was Hooter's. And, just as I jumped into the car, a police cruiser went by, slowing to a crawl as the officer watched me get into the car. Darrell playfully exclaimed "But Officer, she's my mother! NOT a Hooter's Girl! I'm honestly NOT soliciting!" The idea that I could get busted for prostitution just by accepting a ride from my son, and that he could get arrested for solicitation, all within 24 hours of my touching down on American soil... we both convulsed with laughter.

The rest of the afternoon went by much too fast. Twenty minutes for the hair dye, during which I also cooked some oriental style noodles for Darrell. A bit of visiting and a bit of playing with Zeva and that is all we had time for before I had to head back to L.A. to catch the bus for Denver.

While in L.A. I still had to hit up the bank for my travel cash and arrange for phone service. Metro PCS served up a brand new phone and a month's service for a grand total of $53. The ATM outside HSBC filled the need for cash and then it was off to the bus depot. On the way there we discovered the Fashion District and decided to spend a day there when I got back. It promised to be an interesting stroll.

Stroll? Still not much in the way of pedestrians, even in L.A. I was used to people everywhere and found this lack of people on the sidewalks disturbing. It was almost as though L.A. were a ghost town.

Fortunately it WAS populated. It is just that all the people were indoors, like those at Farmer Boys Sandwiches. I had to eat something on my 24 hour bus ride to Denver so I thought it would be a good idea to stock up on sandwiches and chips instead of buying not-so-healthy, expensive food along the way. Farmer Boys, located throughout SoCal and southern Nevada, makes one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, bar none. And they have gracious, friendly staff who are well trained in customer service. It would have been great to actually eat a sandwich in their home style themed restaurant but time was pressing and we had to get back to the bus station.

I packed my sandwiches into my trusty black bag and, much as I didn't want to leave my Darrell so soon after rediscovering him, I left him at the Greyhound counter and passed through the 'passenger only' barricade to board the bus.

Funny how I overlooked that! In my mind this trip would be full of joyful reunions. Somehow I overlooked that I would also again have to say goodbye to everyone, rending my feelings all over again. At least this time I had the comfort of knowing I would see my dear son again in one week. So, no goodbye this time, only a See You Soon.

That helped stoke my sense of adventure.

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