“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place; we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon
As excited as I was about going back to Los Angeles, where I spent three years of my life some time ago, I was also very down-to-earth about what I would find there. After all, it had been twelve years since I left.
So much can change in twelve years.
So little can change in twelve years.
The minute we touched down at LAX, I was overcome by a feeling of familiarity and comfort; I had come home.
Over the next few days, the connection I used to have to this amazing place was recovered fully, seamlessly and unexpectedly. I was thrilled to revisit my old haunts and show the children a piece of our past; to spend time with dear old friends, missed for so long; to bike on the boardwalk between Santa Monica and Venice and take in the freshness of the breeze and the vastness of the ocean; to sink my feet in the hot sand at the end of an afternoon on the beach and watch the sea as it turns silver under the most magnificent light of the day. LA had charmed and overwhelmed me once more.
But it was not until the day of our departure, that I realized just how deep that connection was. We were flying out in the evening, so sometime in the late afternoon, I decided to take a walk along the beach, my favorite thing to do when I lived there. As I was mentally saying goodbye to all the things I would miss about this place, knowing that I would not be back for a while, I was overcome by a deep, inconsolable sadness. It made sense to be sad, but I could not quite grasp the extent of it. Why did LA feel so much like home after so many years?
I was watching a movie last night and the quote above brought everything home [pun intended]. I had to come back to this place to realise what I had left behind. LA felt like home because part of me had never left.
What I found in LA was a piece of my soul. I also found a phase in my life when I felt exceptionally happy and fulfilled. Beyond the usual cliché of being young, carefree and in California, it was the first time that I felt excited to wake up in the morning and do something that I was passionate about. I enjoyed every dimension of a life full of vitality and passion. And of course, I found again my eternal connection to the sea – the glorious endlessness of the ocean, the captivating mix of wildness and calm.
And every time I leave, I will stay.
“I take a part of you with me now and you won't get it back
And a part of me will stay here; you can keep it forever, dear”
Sunrise Avenue, Hollywood Hills J