The notion of California gives me butterflies. It always has. I am just another West Coast dreamer, nothing special there. But with the record-smashing hurricane raging straight towards home, my parents urged me to give up my flights and stay back. After all, I only paid $53 for a roundtrip.

 

Malibu

 

But then it occurred to me that I would be making decisions, and therefore living, on the basis of fear. And fear is something I have refused to serve for a long time now. Anna¹ was within the borders of my country so I also needed to see her. Besides, they won’t cancel my return flight, the one that was set to land just before my in-class quiz² on vitamins B1, B2, and B6. The storm should be above Florida well before my departure. No, the universe wouldn’t do that to me.

 

Venice

They cancelled my flight.

 

Santa Barbara

 

The following sequence illustrates how a trip that spawned from a blindly purchased plane ticket might piece itself together. Note: this is mildly representative of my life at large.

 

17-Mile Drive

 

1. Notice you have less than an hour to buy a flight deal from Orlando to Los Angeles.

Most of that hour was spent juggling calls and texts at 299,792,458 meters per second. The airline even announced that they were extending the sale for one more day and several friends had expressed interest, but alas, the weathered solo traveler that I am was once again on her own.

 

Malibu

 

2. Notice you have 10 minutes left to buy.

 

Venice

 

3. Buy.

 

Art District

 

4. Notice you have no plan nor a place to stay.

Anna was now teaching English in LA, but living with a host family far out of the city center. We were going to rent a van and road trip, but that fell through. Rest assured dear reader, the plan is always of course to have no plan.

 

Los Angeles

5. Learn that the guy you went to semiformal with at MIT when you were 17 now lives in LA.

His name is Aaron. He pledged Phi Kappa Theta that night. We haven’t talked in two years.

 

Koreatown

 

6. Learn there is a category five hurricane with the longest sustained intensity of winds (185mph) ever recorded that will barrel straight up Florida during the exact days you will be absent.

Empty gas stations and barren supermarket aisles = brb getting the heck out.

 

17-Mile Drive

 

7. Learn that Aaron lives right by LAX and can pick you up.

As an aerospace engineer working on pilot safety for Air Force fighter jets, his office was next door to the airport. And a donut joint with 1,600+ Yelp reviews was situated in between said cubicle and said landing strip.

 

Inglewood

 

8. Learn while boarding your departure flight that Aaron doesn’t work Fridays and was down to join us so we could use his car to embark on the original road trip after all.

Malibu and Santa Barbara here we come!

 

Ventura

 

9. Learn that your sister might not hate you if you show up to her school on a whim being super homeless with two extras and all.

And that students living on campus enjoy swimming in fountains and scaling up shingled roofs. Roofs that utterly lack hand grips. Roofs that are utterly covered in bat shit.

 

Stanford

 

10. Learn that Aaron’s fraternity brothers, one of which was my close friend from high school, are down for Sunday brunch.

Palo Alto and San Francisco watch out!

 

Monterey

 

11. Learn that your flight home had disappeared upon waking up the morning of what you thought was your last day.

 

 

Stanford

 

12. Learn that if you rush into booking the next flight to Miami and Greyhound buses in Florida are sold out, you cannot change the flight a second time so you’re stuck with a shitty layover in Denver.

 

Santa Monica

 

13. Learn that school is cancelled through Wednesday.

According to Snapchat, friends were “whitewater biking,” picking up shattered pieces of our university, wading through their kitchen, walking past raw chicken breasts blown all over their lawn, and rowing rafts around their apartment’s parking lot.

 

Koreatown

 

14. Learn that Aaron is on duty in the desert this week so you would have gotten to house sit and be productive and now you’re feeling bummed.

 

17-Mile Drive

 

15. Learn your best friend would have been able to pick you up from the Orlando airport that Saturday and take you straight to a water park³ with free entry so you really, really need to change your flight.

Katie is a Seaworld employee and is from Orlando.

 

Monterey

 

16. Learn that if you apply the principles of being super pleasant over the phone for replacing GoPros to replacing flights, the airline will kindly make an exception for you.

Hello extra five days of perfect weather and West Coast food, so nice to meet you.

 

DTLA

 

17. Learn that all your professors have postponed and/or cancelled anything remotely close to a deadline, assignment, quiz, or exam.

 

Malibu

The end.

1. An Anna is a wild Italian sister you meet when you show up alone to the middle of nowhere in Kenya. She will love you, protect you, and years later work overnights at Subway so she can jump on a smelly bus at dawn just to see you for a day in London.
2. Perfect score in the end.
3. Aquatica was fun.

 

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