I think about my time in Los Angeles every day. Something always reminds me of some really cool thing I got to do while I was there, and I usually smile really big for a few minutes and then get really sad and then remind myself to be thankful it happened. Today is one of those days where I've thought about it way more than usual. I was only there for three and a half months, but I did a lot of growing up in those three and a half months. I saw things I may never see again, had a different adventure every day. I'm serious, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My favorite part of being across the country, though, was definitely, without-a-doubt the people I met while I was there. None of my adventures would have been worth anything had I not shared them with some of the best people I've ever met.
That's why my mind constantly wanders to my time on the west coast.
Allow me to introduce you to these angels that I was fortunate enough to make my friends. I don't think they'll ever understand just how much they mean to me, but I don't mind reminding them from time to time. :)
This is Ally. We got set up on a "blind date" my first week out there, and hit it off so well. She and I had SO much fun together for the three weeks that she was out there, and the day she left LA to go back home (to Ireland, might I mention--I know right, how AWESOME is that!) was the first time I cried while being there. I can't wait to plan a trip to Europe to visit this girl! I am positive that we'd be inseparable if we lived close enough to be.
These beautiful people are Kyle, Micki, and Tom. Kyle and I went to middle and high school together, and reconnected when I was a temporary occupant of LA. he introduced me to Tom and Micki, and I spent most of my time out there with these three. We celebrated birthdayy together, watched fireworks on the fourth of July, ate at fancy-shmancy restaurants, and they were even the ones responsible for taking me to Disneyland for the very first time.
Meet Candice Crawford and her oh-so-welcoming friends. Candice was the intern at Casa Colina during the spring semester, and we got to go on a few trips together when I first started. She was SO unbelievably hospitable to this Carolina girl--I went to several concerts and my first Angels game thanks to the generosity of this gal. She was, and still is, a gem!
And now E-rock, the big brother of one of my very best friends. I had heard countless stories about this awesome guy who lived in LA as a singer/dancer/entertainer, and it was such a treat to finally get to meet him. He was everything the Emilie had described him as--plus some! He took me under his wing while I was there, and he's become a wonderful friend who I'm certain I'll have forever.
If I could list every participant who touched my life and became like a brother or sister to me while interning with the greatest program I could have ever imagined, I would go on for days and days. This is a snapshot of the final moments of our river rafting trip, which is one of my favorite memories from all of our trips. I'd go back right now and drop everything I've got going on if I was given the opportunity to relive those life-changing moments every day for the rest of my life. I'll never forget any of them. Ever, ever, ever.
Dave Gardner (better known to me as Davey Jones) is up next, and he's one of the best. I met him at E-Rock's twenty-third birthday celebration, and we became best friends within minutes! We ventured to the San Diego Zoo together, frequently visited the Santa Monica Pier, and hiked the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountain Range together--not to mention how he saved my life when my legs cramped up on the trail. Myyyyy heeeeeero! :-P But seriously, this guy is awesome. He's currently traveling the world for the next year, and I'm so proud to be friends with such a God-fearing man.
Ahh, Anne and Jen. These two beautiful ladies were my supervisors at Outdoor Adventures. I couldn't have hand-picked two better women to learn from and confide in during my time in Los Angeles; they had the best personalities, the biggest hearts, the wittiest brains, the most compassion for others, and the list just keeps going and going. I was, and still very much am, SO blessed to have been mentored by such Godly women who prayed for and with me for the duration of my summer.
This lady-lou was the gracious person who opened up her home to a complete stranger for three and a half months. She took care of me, and I fell in love with her at our first meeting. Shelye is who Shelye is, and that's the best part about her. Not only was she my roommate and "mommy" for a few months, but she became one of my best friends out there. Living in her office-converted-bedroom-with-a-mattress-on-the-floor was beyooooond spectacular.
Catherine was also my summer roomie! She had sold her house and moved into Shelye's condo while she closed on another home, so I was fortunate to have TWO incredible roommates for a few months. She was an avid outdoor enthusiast, and she never ever sat still. If I ever wanted to go somewhere non-touristy (which was quite often), I knew she was my girl. She also worked at Casa Colina as a physical therapist, so I saw her at work and at home--lucky me!
That's just the beginning of all the extraordinary people I met while I adventured in (and owned every part of) southern California. I know I'll never forget to remember a single person who touched my life, because, whether they know it or not, they all had a hand in helping me become the woman I am today. Making new friends is one of the most fun things to do, and I think the Lord is filled with SO much joy when his sons and daughters from different areas of his creation meet and form bonds that will last a lifetime.
I miss California a lot today, which isn't really unusual from any other day. My time out there brought so many of my dreams to life and subtly (and, sometimes, not-so subtly) reminded me that there is never a time like the present. And whatever you do, don't let it pass you by. Not even for a second. Cherish the people you're lucky enough to know, and don't even give them the chance to wonder if they mean something to you. Be intentional, and create some one-of-a-kind memories that could never be imitated even with your best efforts.
"Life is short and opportunities are rare, and we have to be vigilant in protecting them. And not only the opportunities to succeed, but to laugh, to see the enchantment and to live. Because life doesn't owe us anything. In fact, I think we owe something to the world."
-Haley James Scott