Before I had a job that required travel, I thought traveling for work must be the coolest thing. Technically I traveled for work once at my first job out of college, but that involved going to Milwaukee with an indoor soccer team and ending up with the worst hangover I've ever known, so I never really considered it "business travel" since it was neither sophisticated nor dignified, both how I imagined work travel should be.
Since I like traveling, I thought having a job pay for a trip somewhere would be pretty sweet, but once you've done it, reality sets in. You're going to actually work, not see the sights, and sometimes the days on the road are longer than the days in the office.
So last week I went on a quick work trip for a conference in San Diego. I had been to San Diego when I was a teenager, and I remember it being perfection. Clear, sunny skies, no humidity, a perfect temperature in the mid-70s. Accessible beaches, prime shopping. Basically, a dream.
Naturally, I wasn't looking forward to it.
Don't get me wrong. San Diego is lovely. Really, it's beyond lovely. But I knew I wouldn't be seeing much of it. I didn't know I'd be learning some hard lessons along the way.
DON'T TRAVEL WHEN MERCURY IS IN RETROGRADE
Holy hell. I left last Wednesday, and so on Tuesday, I was AMPED. I crushed my to-do list at work. I packed before 9 p.m. I had my shit DOWN, because I knew Wednesday would be a long day, spent mostly on a plane. But by 4 a.m., I was still laying in bed wide awake, Googling "breathing tricks to fall asleep," but my mind continued to race, and I only managed about three hours of sleep, approximately one half of the minimum I need to be a decent, functioning human being.
Of course, my 10:15 a.m. flight didn't go so smoothly either.
Did you know Mercury is in retrograde right now? So let me just say that I am not one for horoscopes or any of that shit, but I live with the fear of God when it comes to Mercury in retrograde. When Mercury is in retrograde (i.e., it looks to astrologists like it's moving backward), shit goes haywire. Appliances break, communication between people sucks, and basically everyone hates each other. In short, my daily life.
And Mercury in retrograde also affects travel. Things don't go as planned, there are delays, weird occurrences, etc. So of course my flight was delayed because the kind people at Southwest were nice enough to wait for a delayed flight from Norfolk. OK. I guess if I had a connection at BWI and my flight was running late, I'd appreciate them waiting for me. Besides, it was only a 20-minute delay.
Of course then the airport alarms went off, the flight was packed, some "navigation system" broke (?!), and we weren't off the runway until two hours later than planned. I didn't sleep thanks to a screaming child and wicked turbulence, and by the time we landed, my stomach was eating itself because a tiny bag of cheese nips just doesn't cut it. When the flight attendant started singing a song about how long the flight was, I have never hated anything more than I hated Southwest in that moment.
I stopped for food at the first place I saw in the airport, an Einstein Bagels, and bolted for the first form of transportation to get to the hotel.
DON'T WORK AND TRAVEL IN THE SAME DAY
I got in the van, and my driver informed me and the other passenger that she had to check another terminal to see if there were any passengers. She got out of the car and proceeded to have a 10-minute chat with an 18-year-old working at the transportation stand who was pondering her future career options. I know this because upon the driver's return, she told us all about said conversation.
Needless to say, my patience was wearing thin. I hadn't eaten the bagel yet because I felt like it was disrespectful to this woman's van or something. Plus, I was so hungry that what I was about to do to this bagel would be best done in private.
My impatience toward this driver probably should have been my first hint that I am not laid back enough for the West Coast (more on that later).
Finally, I got to the hotel, changed quickly, hoovered my bagel, and headed toward the conference center where I soon noticed that I felt like I had been awake for three days and I could barely string a sentence together. An afternoon of working, and my day wasn't quite over. I had a dinner ahead of me, which basically was taking place over my bedtime in Eastern Standard Time.
Based on my two nights there, I can tell you San Diego is a great foodie city. That night I dined with a lot of people who are smarter than me at a seafood restaurant called Blue Point. The food was phenomenal. You know I wanted to take ALL the food photos for you, but as I was sitting at a table full of PhDs, my grasp of the English language hanging on by a thread, I thought better of snapping a selfie with my amuse-bouche. (And when they started talking about the desire to retire at age 65, I kept my mouth shut when I thought about how I want to retire at age 30.)
I DON'T BELONG IN CALIFORNIA (SADLY)
When I walked to Blue Point, I noticed I was practically bulldozing people on the sidewalk. I wasn't in danger of being late, though being raised by a hyperpunctual father means this is often a concern of mine. Rather, I was walking at my normal pace -- which, apparently, is very fast. It turns out that my college years in New York have forever rendered me an impatient, irritable, fast-walker. And everyone in San Diego seemed happy to frolic along and dawdle in the street, I guess enjoying the view?
When I think about moving away from Baltimore, I usually think of returning to New York. But I'll contemplate the West Coast every now and then. Unlike Baltimore, a town full of easy-to-run-into exes that is three hours from the nearest beach and has humidity in the summer that is as thick as the snow in the winter, San Diego is full of beautiful people I don't know, has its own beaches, and has perfect weather nearly year-round.
Forgetting about my fast-walking irritation from the evening before, Thursday morning I went for a run by the marina and through the Seaport Village. Lots of gorgeous people were out being active, and when I got back to my room, I listened to my crazy awesome playlist, sipped some "artisan" water (whatever that is -- so Cali!), looked at my view of Petco Park, and felt like a real baller. I went to the conference in a much better mood and in full possession of my entire vocabulary.
Later that day, I took a walk (primarily to snag some photos for you, dear readers), basked in the sun, and thought "I could do this..."
That is, until some random guy on the sidewalk said "I can tell you're not from here."
"The way you're dressed."
What. The. Fuck.
Now, I know I'm not tan and blonde, and I definitely have a penchant for black and gray clothes. In fact, mostly everything I packed was black and gray, and my best friend reminds me regularly not to "dress like cement."
But on this particular day, I was wearing a red skirt and a white tank top and I felt pretty damn good about my Cali swag. As it turns out, he was commenting on the fact that I was walking around in 65-degree weather without my jacket on. But I had been walking for a while in the sun and I was shvitzing, so whatever.
He then proceeded to inform me that it was still "winter" there, and he thought it meant the summer would last a while -- "at least until December or January."
Go ahead, rub it in, asshole.
It's great to visit, but I guess I'm just not bout dat Cali life after all.