Plugs and Sparks

I understand now why it is called the “Golden Coast”. My car maneuvered the cliffs along highway 1, playing a leap-frog style pattern with the other cars stopping to take pictures at turn out patches scattered along the road.

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Thirteen hours after leaving Palo Alto, I arrived in San Diego, where I met my dear friend from college, and a fellow displaced former Whataberger employee enjoying his fun-employment vacation in Pacific Beach.  I hiked, I ran, I played. I ate burritos and I let the sun have its way with me. I did some whale watching and saw no whales. I went to the zoo. In recent years, I don’t enjoy zoos so much- they really seem a bit archaic and frankly, depressing. As the San Diego Zoo has such a great reputation, I figured why not check it out.

The San Diego Zoo, ladies and gentlemen, is totally worth all the hype it gets. While the entry fee seems a bit steep, its worth EVERY PENNY. Debbin, my fellow funemployed warrior, and I meandered into the zoo on a Monday around 10 am. As dictated to us by Debbin’s San Diego host: Step 1- ride the zoo bus tour, sit on the top level, right side. Step 2- Take the lift to the top of the zoo and work your way down the hill. I believe no simpler advice has yielded such rewarding results. I was equally in awe of the zoo animals as I was the zoo’s infrastructure. There are concession areas at every turn, stocked with pretzels with cheese and churros. The bathrooms are plentiful and hardly ever with a wait. The Zoo’s intricate road system often leaves people standing in the center of the park holding their maps upside down, confused and sad. There are zoo volunteers and employees appropriately dispersed throughout the park to placate the masses of confused and eager zoo goers. There’s outdoor escalators and moving sidewalks which take you through animal exhibits. Seriously, I can not stress this enough, the San Diego Zoo is amazing. During my day, I finally realized my life dream. My pie in the sky fantasy career apex is to work for a large company, plan the annual investor conference as an overnight zoo retreat at the San Diego Zoo. Presentations will be held in the zoo’s two movie theatres.

I left San Diego for Phoenix. Similar to the flat plains and grazing cattle scenery in North Texas, the Arizona desert strikes a chord with me. I get into town where I know all the roads. I drive around Arizona State’s campus for nostalgia purposes, and take myself to the Chipoltle near campus. I remember when this place opened and gave away free burritos. I’m finding the people I’ve kept in touch with the least are the ones I now have most in common with. We talk for hours and hours. We share stories and perspectives fluidly as the time seems to stand still. Occasionally we break to reminisce old stories, laughing until we cry.

There’s a particular feeling I’m learning- it emerges in a flicker and disappears. It appears in the following structure of conversation.  1.You take turns talking about some intense experiences you’ve been through and how it’s changed how you think about or approach life. You sit and listen for several minutes uninterrupted. You talk several minutes uninterrupted.  2.You tell a more lighthearted or funny experience, you listen to their funny story and laugh hysterically, as if you were there.  3.The hilarity reminds you of a time you were together, someone mentions “remember that time….” and you both contribute your specific memories to the event or time period. You laugh until you cry, and you look up at your friend, through teary eyes you dab or wipe away.

The end of the sequence is an exhale, where you’re just looking at each other. Sometimes there’s a slight head shake. That’s the moment the feeling sparks- complete respect and admiration for this person who is truly your friend. Its a delicate understanding, just listening and unassuming to all each other’s experiences, talking freely and laughing as if the years don’t matter.