Last Day in California

Well, my 12-day West Coast junket is about to end. And though I had planned to do loads of Blogging about the trip, time, lack of Internet connections and other variables have kept me from doing as good a job as I would have liked.

I still plan to write about my experiences, the new places I’ve been and the many interesting people I met along the way. There’s been a lot of all of it. I hope to start a bit today and then continue during the coming week, so if you’re interested, please check back.

It’s safe to say that this vacation has been exactly what I needed. I learned about myself on this trip and how I have changed since I was last out here in California. Traveling alone affords this opportunity.

Ever since my first trip out here, the West Coast has always been like that for me: a barometer of where I am, who I am, where I’ve been and possibly where I am going.

It might partly be because my time here has always been so measured, quantifiable. Camp in ’96, ’97 and then my final hoorah in ’99, when I realized camp wasn’t for me anymore (maybe never was). I realized I could take those awesome memories and relationships made and not hold onto them so tightly anymore, but cherish them, as I do, throughout my life. I’m lucky, too, because I did get some great friends out of the deal. Their friendship is really the driving factor in what keeps me coming back here. Then there was the Sacramento experience, which I already addressed on this Blog.

Each time I come out here I can see subtle differences in myself. I can see how my friends have grown and changed, or not. I still get excited about coming here and I feel connected to the city, the region, the state. I can look back on the life I am living in Ohio and see things more clearly. The bad doesn’t seem so bad. The good, well, it isn’t so good. My friends and family seem more important to me. Me seems more important to me: taking care of myself, making myself learn more, grow more and strive to be more. Finishing school. Get along further in my career. Being a better friend, a better mate to the woman I will find that will hopefully forever be with me. After a vacation – especially one to California – I can take it all on again.

There are times in our lives when we do a lot of changing, introspection and finding out who we are. Nearly all the growing up part for me happened right here. Another big chunk happened in Cincinnati, but the final imprint, the one that will take me through to the end, really happened on this coast.

I’m about to go walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. I can kind of see it from where I’m typing this inside of Mike’s basement bedroom in a house in the Presidio. Walking the bridge is one of my favorite things to do.

Sadly, about one person per week doesn’t make it all the way across. They get about halfway and jump into the Bay. It’s one of the most popular places to commit suicide in the world. I hope not to see any proof of that today.

My flight leaves at 11:30 p.m. this evening. It’ll be 2:30 a.m. back home. There another set of opportunities and likely trials await me. I want to be there.

Hopefully is all is well from wherever you are reading this…

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

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