Lonely California

Submitted into Contest #99 in response to: Write a story about characters going on a summer road trip.... view prompt


Inspirational Speculative Adventure

Premise: it's my first first-person story. Any suggestions are much appreciated!


The summer heat arrived all at once, like every year. I’ve always had trouble to swift from the winter cosy sweater to shorts and flip flop; and every year, I’m totally blindsided. This time was no different: in the middle of June, I’m still wearing my pink slippers and my leggings are on, but that day was terribly hot, something like 38 degrees Celsius. “Ok, now I’m gonna take a shower and change these clothes…”, that’s what I thought when I opened my bedroom’s window and the heat hit my face violently.

The suitcase watched me, neatly placed in front of the door, waiting for me; «Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s late». I’m always talk to my stuff like a crazy person, but hey! That’s me.

Since I moved to Sacramento, California, my number one dream was to do the famous road trip in the Californian coastline: of course, every year something happened and I wasn’t be able to do it, but this year I decided to force myself and do it. I totally deserve it. So, there I was: my suitcase was in the car’s trunk, the cooler was in the seat next to me and the music was on. «Ready to go!», I screamed at no one.

The first hour and a half was nothing special: fields everywhere all around me, but Sacramento wasn’t near the sea so it was kinda obvious. My first stop was San Francisco: the big beautiful city that I only saw passing through when I came to Sacramento two years ago. “Two years”, I thought. So many things changed in just two years. Sacramento was my very first city so far away from home; I remembered how scared I was when I got on the plane. I had never made an intercontinental trip before: I was never left my home country, Italy.

I’m trying my best to say my goodbyes, I think it’s time to go…Dean Lewis words let me think about why I decided to leave, and my eyes filled with tears, even now after two years. «Oh, please stop Dean! I get it!». I tried to change the song but Dean decided to continue singing and my anger almost made me go off the road, so I decided to inspire and expire, like my yoga teacher taught me. Then I realized that the San Francisco Bay Bridge was right in front of me: I was entering the bridge, following all the cars ahead me, surrounded by the smell of the sea and the heat of the sun. My excitement returned and I started to sing at the top of my lungs.

And there is it: the skyline of San Francisco just in front of me. The closer I got, the bigger the skyscrapers became; all the bad thoughts were magically gone.

San Francisco was just how I’ve ever imagined: beautiful houses lined up one next to the other, graffiti everywhere and artists of any kind in every single corner. And, of course, the uphill streets, big and steeps. “Why did I never come here before?”, I asked myself while I wandering in the streets. I could feel the energy of that city, the life of all those artists, and it make me feel small, almost useless. My life was pretty empty: job, home, and occasionally a Friday night out a few colleagues from work.

The next stop of my summer road trip was the famous Big Sur: my expectations were very high, about all the stuff I’ve read online. Truth is, the two hours in the car from San Francisco to the Big Sur coastline were brutal. Maybe it was the summer heat, maybe because I decided to not turn on the AC, but when I finally saw the ocean, I was so relieved! I had booked a little B&B in a small city, and I was so glad I did it. My legs really needed to be stretched, for once.

Carmel-by-the-sea was a beautiful little town near the ocean, full with small restaurants and shops of any kind. My B&B was literally two-steps from the sea and I was so happy about that. I’ve always thought of myself like a more mountain person, but the truth is I love the sea: the smell of it, the sound of the waves, the sand in my toes. In Italy I didn’t have many opportunities to go to the beach, for various reasons: the people around me didn’t like to go there, and I always thought, what’s the point of going there alone? In two years all by myself, I learned a lot: first of all how to stay alone and never count on others. Because, seriously, if you don’t know how to stay alone with yourself, how can you pretend to know to have healthy relationships with other people? And to be honest, being alone is just amazing. You can do everything you want, talk to everybody or to nobody, because no one cares. All that matter is you.

The stretch of fine sand in front of me seemed endless: I took off my sandals and put one foot in it. I was so excited! The signs around me screamed “WARNING! LIFE-THREATING WAVES AND CURRENTS” but I just wanted to feel the ocean in my feet. In two years in California, that was the first time I had the opportunity to really touch the ocean. Unbelievable, uh? But, you know, learn how to be alone is a long process. It takes time, but it’s worth it in the end.

The water was so calm, little waves arrived in the water edge and gently touched my feet: it was fresh, not too hot and not too cold. In the meantime, the sun was about to go down: it was a magical moment, pure perfection. The beach was mostly empty, except for a few couples and other three alone person like me. Everybody was focus on the sunset, that was pretty amazing: the sun’s rays coloured the clouds of a light red and the sky was more and more orange, creating a mystical light all around us. When the last ray of sunshine disappeared behind the horizon, I decided to go back to the B&B and explore a little bit the town. Even though I was very tired, I was too curious to see Carmel-by-the-sea. The main street was full of bars and restaurants, most of them Italian; the tables were full of people, but everyone was so relaxed. «Hey there! You hungry?», asked a young boy outside one of the many restaurants. His accent was so strong that I immediately understood that he was Italian. «Si, grazie!», I answered in Italian. His eyes lit up and we started chatting in our mother tongue. «I arrived six months ago and I love this little town», he confessed me. I was happy to had the chance to talk to someone who understand how beautiful and difficult was the journey of leaving home and go somewhere so different. His name was Giovanni, but everybody called him Joe there, and he was only 19 years old. «Wow, you are very brave to be here at your age. I’m ten years older than you and I decided to leave only two years ago», I admitted. It was the truth: at 19, my first thought in the morning was what to wear for university. It never crossed my mind to leave my hometown and go so far away, at that age. «Better late than never, right?», he answered me with a big smile. The dinner was delicious: I had finally found a place where the pizza was made in the very Italian, Neapolitan style.

The next morning, I was ready to leave again: I was rested and I felt relaxed and fresh like never before. My next stop was Santa Barbara, a long journey of almost three hours: but I was sure it will be worth it.

My expectations were well placed, in fact: the long, straight road ran along the ocean for the entire time. I lined the bright coast with the ocean so close to me; I stopped a few times along to rest and I was be able to refresh my feet and my legs in the water. It was just amazing! I arrived in Santa Barbara in the middle of the afternoon and stayed there for one night; but the city was totally different from Carmel-by-the-sea. It was filled with people of different cultural background, and in the streets, I heard so many different languages. From English, to Mexican, to Italian of course. The beaches were full of people, soaking up in the sun, while the children played in the ocean, screaming and laughing. At sunset, I wasn’t be able to find a single spot where sit in silence and enjoy the sun coming down over the sea; it was a little bit disappointing but I was happy to be surrounded of so much life and joy. The little B&B where I stayed for the night was in front of the bike path in front of the beach. The view from my room was beautiful: I could saw the people running in their bikes or in roller skate, and behind them the ocean’s waves touched the sand. I thought that Santa Barbara was a beautiful place and maybe I even could live there for a while. I mean, who says I can’t move wherever I want?

San Diego was the final stop of my summer road trip. Actually, not the city itself, because I didn’t want to visit a big city full of people. I decided to stop at one of the best beaches in the area, which was the Oceanside Beach. It was a very difficult choice, because there are so many places in San Diego I’ve wanted to visit. But I don’t know exactly why, Oceanside Beach was a perfect name for the meaning of this trip. I decided to go to a summer road trip in the Californian coastline to enjoy the ocean and feel the vastity of the sea; for too long I avoided the sense of my life, ignoring how beautiful the world is. For too long I thought I wasn’t deserved to follow my dreams, or that wasn’t right because I felt so alone. In those two years so far away from home, I learned that this loneliness was always a part of me: I tried to drive it away, but the truth is that the only thing to do was to embrace it. Feeling alone let you understand the real meaning of life, what is really important to you and why you are so important for yourself: you are the only one who will always be there. No matter what.

June 22, 2021 11:28

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Ruth Smith
05:16 Jul 22, 2021

I loved your descriptions of the stops the narrator made on the summer road trip. They are very vivid and colorful.


Giulia S.
18:16 Jul 22, 2021

Thank you!


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Gip Roberts
21:00 Jun 30, 2021

Growing up, one of my favorite parts about a road trip was writing about it when I returned. This reminds me of that. And I think you did a good job as far as writing in first-person. It's easy to slip up and catch one's self drifting back and forth between first-person and third when feeling inspired to write, but you kept the first-person narrative consistent all the way through. I also really liked the theme of the story: That being alone doesn't have to be a hindrance to enjoying the beauty that surrounds us. You illustrated that well w...


Giulia S.
21:19 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you so much! I'm really glad you liked my story :) It was a little bit of a challenge for me writing in first person and about all those feelings...so I'm very happy someone enjoyed it :D


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