*NOTE: this was written last Thursday (April 7th)
Hello blog readers! It’s me,
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet,
To go over everything
…that’s happened in California since I have been too busy soaking up life that I haven’t given this ole blog the attention it needs.
Sorry I had to cut into the Adele flow, if you caught on 😉
Yesterday morning, as I was eating breakfast, I looked at my calendar and realized that in EXACTLY 6 weeks, I will be embarking on my journey back home to the East Coast. And in 6 weeks from today, I will officially be meeting Nereo at the Atlanta airport.
Not long ago I had a vivid image in my mind of me sitting on a bench waiting for my flight, reminiscing over my semester in California, the friendships I made, hiking every week, and just exploring. Then I had a displeasing thought of not having posts to read of the memorable parts of my everyday life here. There’s no better time to document a rare opportunity than when actually living it.
So to my followers, thank you for reading and staying updated through my never-ending pictures on social media. I gotta say, thinking back to ALL the experiences and putting them into written form can be tedious. But keeping in mind you who actually enjoy reading these things keeps me going.
Since I last updated you all on my LA trip, my life has continued to be rad. I have more blessings to recall than complaints. I always say the good outweighs the bad. And really, the only bad on my end is stress from school projects, and occasionally really missing the comfort of my South Carolina home. But in the broad picture of life, one semester of college is not a long time. It’s true because I vividly remember arriving in Chico, hardly knowing anyone. Now here I am, 6 weeks left in California, with countless memories and pictures to recall, just imagining my life this summer that is just around the corner.
A lot has happened since my last blog post. During my spring break, my sweet boyfriend made a visit here all the way from South Carolina. I discovered solar panels are more casually installed on personal homes (sustainability is so emphasized here). I saw several instances of CA being more liberal than the Deep South. I gained friendships and memorable experiences through my involvement in organizations. I’ve grown in my faith, disciplining myself in reading my bible more than I did before. I took and enjoyed exercise classes at the gym—fuego, mat pilates, abs, spinning, and cardio kickboxing. I’ve become accustomed to local lingo and the Chico ways. Since the mountains are not too far away, hiking has become a casual thing—which I LOVE! It’s also been neat to be the first to know the latest in the community from writing for The Orion Newspaper (including a long-talked about faculty strike which recently got canceled since they came to an agreement with the Chancellor on their wages). I’ve learned what it takes to be news reporter of The Orion.
To save you from reading 5 books worth of blog posts altogether, I first want to document Nereo’s trip to California.
His visit from South Carolina was entirely short but entirely sweet. But because it was short, we were really strategic planners and managers of time. I was super excited to introduce him to all my friends here. (Thank goodness he’s an extrovert or else I would have felt guilty introducing him to a bunch of strangers at once). The whole trip was actually a huge blessing. I had some help from a dear friend, Valerie, from Asian Christian Fellowship to pick him up from the Sacramento Airport, which is an hour and a half drive from Chico. Valerie had an idea to make it a field trip and get a group going. Soon enough we had three cars full of people road-tripping it to Sac. Strangers ambushed Nereo as soon as he came down the elevator into baggage claim. I figured that if he was going to be overwhelmed by strangers greeting him, I might as well go all out. So I drew his name in giant letters on a sign. We held it up just to make sure he knew exactly where to find us. To be able to finally see him in person again was wonderful.
We explored Old Town, Sacramento, which Valerie was familiar with since she grew up in the area. The environment was rundown, yet comfortingly pleasant. We ate at a delicious Chinese buffet. My most prominent memory of the food is the fresh shrimp I devoured. For dessert we went to Jollibee, a Filipino fast-food restaurant. A majority of the group tried halo halo for the first time, a wonderful mixture of condensed milk, shaved ice, red beans, purple yam, and jellies.
From there we went to Seafood City, a Filipino grocery store, and a Chinese grocery store, per request of our friend Ling. The evening arrived quickly and many of us were exhausted from the long day, especially jetlagged Nereo. So we made our way back to Chico.
I have to mention my conversations with Ling, who speaks little English, and only Mandarin. I realized that conversing with someone who speaks very little English, but rather the language you want to learn, is highly beneficial. Ling wanted me to help her with English, and in doing so, I was forced to speak the Mandarin I already knew, plus new words she taught me. It was challenging at times, but we had fun and had to laugh at ourselves sometimes. I’ve come so far with speaking Mandarin, but such a long way I have to go!
The rest of that short weekend consisted of me showing Nereo around town. We both tried local restaurants for the first time. We went hiking in gorgeous Upper Bidwell Park with some friends. To make it even with my city boy, we did “urban hiking” in the Chico Mall. Its size reminded me a lot of the small Anderson Mall back home.
I took him to the church I attend here – Asian Bible Church. Everyone was warm and welcoming. We hung out with friends from ACF and played an intense game of Mafia. We spontaneously saw “Zootopia” in theaters. I highly recommend this great movie! We also joined friends from Christian Challenge in Game Night, where we discovered a new, unique, but oddly fun game called Exploding Kittens. No worries, it’s just a card game.
We went on a spontaneous double date with friends from Christian Challenge, Jacob and Alex. (Alex is the friend who picked me up from the airport in the very beginning!) It was a fun time. We enjoyed Thai food and laughter was constant.
We treated ourselves to the freshest burgers and fries at In-N-Out! (My first time ever) I even intentionally avoided eating In-N-Out the previous 2 months so I could actually try it during Nereo’s visit. I’m not typically a burger girl, but those fine patties, buns and toppings were an art. I got extra crispy fries and he got animal style fries (with sauce, grilled onions, and melted cheese). Yea, healthy Michelle splurged. I wondered what all the craze was with such a simple menu. It’s gotta be the freshness. Not to mention the close-pinned red apron and hat attire of all the employees was like a throwback to the traditional American diner. So will In-N-Out ever make its way to the East Coast?
I blinked and Monday rolled around. Nereo had to make his way back to South Carolina. But luckily, we had the entire day to explore. We had the one of the best brunches I’ve had at Mom’s Restaurant.
The poached egg and an ABC omelet (avocado, bacon, and cheddar) was a great start to the day. We explored downtown and stopped in Naked Lounge (coffee shop!) and shared a coconut oolong hot tea, which was my first Chico coffee shop item ever. I’ve come to prefer tea over coffee lately. We ate authentic tacos from a taco truck right down the road from where I live. We followed up with persimmon and avocado ice cream from a Mexican ice cream shop.
With the help of some friends from Christian Challenge, we made the trip back to Sacramento that night. It worked out perfectly since Sai, the driver, was also picking up his sister from the Sacramento Airport. Then suddenly there Nereo and I were, parting ways in the airport again. It was sad to say goodbye for now, but the joy I had for him coming all this way to visit, even for just a short weekend, was real. What other chance will I have to get accustomed to life in Northern California for two months, and then introduce my boyfriend to new friends and places? It was pretty cool. Thank you, Nereo, for making the trip. And thank you, Chico friends for being awesome and making life memorable. These are moments that I will value and carry on with me.
If you made it to the bottom dear reader, thank you for taking the time to read this continuation of my Californian adventure. I’ll be back very, very soon! (on the blog, and in South Carolina).