LB is Where It’s At!

Once I was inside a fenced compound, I was mesmerized by the pedicured garden of desert plants and flowers that accented the walkway to my sister’s apartment. Their one-bedroom apartment was stylishly furnished; very modern. I unpacked my suitcase and placed my clothes in the closet space that was arranged for me. I wondered how I was going to sleep on the couch, worried that I would ruin this fancy piece of furniture. We had delicious pasta with meat sauce and medium sweet red wine, Zinfandel, from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma.

Life in California seemed so much more ‘civilized’ and ‘advanced’ than Kentucky to me. It was a welcome change, and I looked forward to what was in store for me. The next couple of weeks, my sister and brother-in-law took me around, and I gladly played tourist. El Pollo Loco (The “Crazy Chicken” in Spanish) by far became my most favorite fast-food place in town; within a week. The Mexican-style grilled chicken there had kept its original recipe from its first restaurant in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico, in 1974. The pressed crispy skin of the chicken gave it its distinct flavor, and it became my daily love affair.

Disneyland, ‘the happiest place on earth’, in Anaheim was amazing. Hundreds of people spend their days there on a family outing. And yet, the place is spotless, clean as it can be at all times. There is much to be said about that. I tried almost all the activities and loved every bit of it. My brother-in-law suggested that I get on a dark cave ride of some sort. I do not even remember the name of it. I thought why not and got in with excitement. It was superfast, pitch dark, and it went up and down, side-to-side, upside down, and all around from the moment I got on it until it impetuously stopped. One could not see a thing. All ten of us seated and belted down tight ‘knew’ that something had gone wrong. We were ‘stuck’. Some started crying out for help; most of us were shocked into silence. And suddenly, it pushed us out of the cave into light as it slid down a hill smoothly to a very gentle stop. The ride was over, and the workers were there to help us out of our seats. I saw my brother-in-law standing there with a smirk on his face, amused. I did not talk to him for three days. I thought what he did to me was mean and not funny at all.

As for every credit, there is a debit; for every beginning, there is an end. And so my California vacation had to come to an end about a month into the adventure. I had to go out and look for work; any job would do because by then I was broke. I did various jobs back-to-back; selling movie tickets at the theater, stacking goods in grocery stores, cashiering at a boutique store, and selling used cars, where I learned the term “you do not eat an elephant in one bite” – a powerful sales concept that stayed with me for years to come. I saved up some money and moved to Long Beach, California. I rented a beautiful Spanish-style apartment by the beach.

Long Beach felt very much like home. It looked nothing like Addis, but its chill vibes and eclectic scenery captivated my innermost imagination. I knew something wonderful would eventually happen to me in Long Beach. From its magnificent beach-front view apartments to the coolest coffee shops and breakfast joints on every other corner, from the mix of young and old people with a neighborly feeling for one another to the amazing thrift stores with vintage everything, I loved it all. I quickly secured a job related to my psychology degree next to where I lived. I assumed a position as a Neurological Specialist working with people with neurological damages due to various kinds of accidents. My job entailed implementing the therapeutic plan Speech Therapists, Clinical Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, and Psychiatrists designed for these patients. Life was good – LB is where it’s at!

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