After my day in San Francisco, I landed in San Diego for the final leg in my US tour. I spent two nights with the wonderful Westbergs, a family I knew in Beijing, and also managed to see quite a number of other friends while I was in town.
On my first day, I was able to meet up with a friend from Australia who lives in Mexico. She drove up with a coworker who had errands to do and we had fun wandering around a shopping area and catching up on each other’s lives and families. It is always special to see her – someone who knows my Canberra world (and family) and who also knows expat life, even if we lived on different continents.
The next day I had three catchups back to back, being passed from one to the other, as they generously chauffered me around San Diego! First was brunch with two sisters I knew from the youth groups in Beijing a long time ago. It was wonderful to hear what they’re up to, talk about Third Culture Kid stuff, eat yummy food and do a little window shopping. I actually bought a little jewellery – my favourite kind of souvenir. They brought me to Fletcher Cove Park to meet my next friend – another Beijing connection, someone they also knew.
Fletcher Cove is one of several beaches in Solana Beach city, and above it is a park with spectacular views. There is a playground and picnic tables and even some free parking – all overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I could definitely see why my friend suggested it as a meeting place! We sat and stared out at the waves (and surfers) while we chatted, enjoying the sunshine and sea breeze. It was beautiful!
Next I visited with another Beijing youth group girl, now all grown up and recently married. I was delighted to be able to meet her husband for the first time. They had sent me a wedding invitation, and it spent most of last year on the bulletin board in my dorm room. We chatted over Starbucks until we all had to be elsewhere.
It was such a sweet way to wind up my trip, catching up with lovely people from different parts of my life. That’s really what the entire trip was about – other than The Wedding, that is! It’s hard to explain just how special it was to catch up with people, to have conversations in person, to hear about others’ lives and be able to share something of mine. People I hadn’t seen in 2 years or 10 years or somewhere in between. Sometimes, people I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. People who had been central to my life at different times. It was comforting, and encouraging, and gave me hope for future reunions – you never know when you’ll have an opportunity to see someone, somewhere.
One of the difficulties of international life is that your past is scattered – it may be centred around a location (or several) but the people who made up your life have a tendency to scatter around the world. For a month I travelled around places to which a few of the pieces of my life had scattered, and it was wonderful.
I finished the day at a Christmas Eve service. It was quite enjoyable, although I still found it hard to believe it was already Christmas – that I had already been in the US four weeks, and would be leaving for Australia the next day.