The memories hit me like a ton of bricks as we hit the freeway leaving Long Beach. I didn’t want to go, five hours wasn’t enough time. I had finally gotten to unite my two loves – my husband and my city.
The two things couldn’t have merged before now. If I had stayed in Long Beach I’d never have met my love. Over the years I often regretted leaving Long Beach, but I’ve never regretted meeting my husband. Life takes us in different directions, down different paths, and in this case, I understand why.
We didn’t come to California simply on vacation, so I knew time for sightseeing would be limited. I also knew that going to Long Beach for an afternoon would elicit vivid memories and emotions, both of happiness and longing. I was right. Though many things had changed, so much was still the same.
We had brunch at my favorite ‘locally world famous’ coffee shop where we met up with one of my old and dear friends. After enjoying the same breakfast I used to have more times than I can remember, the three of us headed over to the Belmont Brewing Company for a memory-inducing Strawberry Blonde beer. Don’t judge, it was five o’clock somewhere!
One of the many things I love about Long Beach are the one-of-a-kind shops, so I took my husband to a place called Iguana Imports where we picked up a few small souvenirs. It has been such a long time since I lived in the area that my memory of where everything is located is vague, not to mention the changes that have taken place since I’ve been gone. Luckily my old friend stuck with us and drove us around! We ended our afternoon on 2nd Street in Belmont Shores, definitely my favorite area of Long Beach. The whole street is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars – there is never a dull moment! As much as I wanted to wander and go into all of my favorite stores there simply wasn’t time. So we sat on the patio at one of the restaurants and enjoyed another beer in the beautiful sunshine.
Alas, it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and headed back towards the freeway, away from Long Beach. I had wanted to swing through my alma mater and show my husband where I spent so much of my college days, but again, no time. I knew it would be hard but how do you prepare for the flood of emotions in such a situation? As soon as we hit the freeway hot salty tears stung my face like hundreds of bees under attack. I wanted to revel in the beauty of the day, the goodness of the memories and having the opportunity to go back for a visit, but the ache of leaving was too much in that moment.
For the first time, my two worlds merged – a life I had once loved so dearly and the life I love and live today. I am not the young girl who went to college in California anymore. I am the married woman who has made a life with her husband in Florida. Figuring out how these identities converge is a bit overwhelming for me right now, but I am realizing that is ok. Letting go is hard. I am not who I thought I was going to be when I was in college, but how many people are? Life takes us in different directions and down different paths and that’s ok. I am ok.
Do you struggle with letting go? Have you experienced a time when your ‘worlds’ collided? If so, how did you deal with it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!