The one where I talk about the beach…and traffic.

There are things to dislike about California. The traffic, the cost of living, earthquakes, and the traffic, sigh, good Lord the traffic. But like many things in life, we accept the good with the bad. Because although there might be some bad (i.e., the traffic) the good makes it all worth it.

I remember when Derek was being interviewed for the job at UCLA. The coach hiring him did his best to warn us.

“It’s expensive out here. The traffic’s really bad and you’ll probably have to commute because you won’t be able to afford to live anywhere near campus. Which means fighting the traffic on the 405 every day which can be really bad. And gas is expensive and so are the homes. Did I mention how bad the traffic will be?”

But we didn’t hear a word. We were excited. We were moving to the ocean. And even if we couldn’t afford to live near the ocean, then at least we’d be living close enough to drive there. Even if it meant fighting the traffic.

When we first arrived, we were shocked by the amount of Californians that told us that they never go to the beach. By the time we moved here, most of the beach gear was gone at Wal-Mart and Target, so we asked new neighbors and other people that we had just met if we could borrow theirs.

Do you have any beach gear that we could borrow? What? No? You don’t own any? You never go to the beach? But it’s California. You do realize where you live right? Yes, (sigh) we’ve heard about the traffic…  

So, for our first trip to the beach as Californians, we were forced to buy a beach umbrella and a few sand toys for the boys at the gas station across the street from the beach. Maybe we were just a bunch of bright-eyed, landlocked Okies, but to us living in California and never going to the beach was like living in Oklahoma and never taking cover during a tornado. It just doesn’t make any sense.

We are trying our best to raise beach boys even though we live a good 45 minutes away from the coast. Almost seven years into California living, we now own 2 surfboards, 2 boogie boards, 3 wetsuits, 2 beach umbrellas (one of which is the original gas station umbrella), 5 beach chairs, and enough buckets and shovels to keep the kids digging for a good 10 minutes at least.

Yes, going to the beach is work. You’ve gotta plan ahead, pack snacks, pack the car, remember enough towels, pack enough drinks, pack enough sunscreen, don’t forget the hats, remember the sand toys, and the wetsuits, and on, and on, and on. A day at the beach is never a day at the beach for the parents who are trying to make sure that you have everything you need to enjoy your day at the beach.

And do you know what has slowly happened? Each year that goes by we seem to go to the beach less and less. We are becoming Californians.

But then you get a four day weekend and you decide to head down to Laguna Beach and you are quickly reminded that God moved you here for many reasons, and one of them is to enjoy and be blessed by this amazing place in which you get to live. California isn’t perfect, but it is beautiful.

Our boys have no idea how cool it is to be growing up here.

But they weren’t kidding about the traffic.

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