california [ change ]

the arrivabada [by Sophie Chiche]

I am from Paris. I always felt like the stork dropped me in the wrong city. As far as I can remember, I was always plotting my escape. It seemed impossible for me to experience “happy” in Paris. Maybe I am a brat. Maybe I could have just appreciated the beauty of the town and the elegance of its people and shut up, but I didn’t.

I visited my brother in California when I was 18, and from the second I landed I knew I had not been crazy all these years. I was happy here. I could breathe a little deeper here.

The day before my dreaded return from what I knew now to be where I needed to live, I bought a pair of Nikes. At that time (yep, I am that old), you could not buy Nikes in Paris. They were orange and blue. I was planning on leaving them at the bottom of my closet and not wearing them until I was on my way to the airport the day I moved to LA. If I ever felt like hitting my head against the wall, I would take them out and look at them as if to say, “almost”.

January 2nd, 1993 was the day. I will never forget the feeling I had as I tied my orange and blue Nikes, and got ready to board the plane that brought me here for the rest of my life. I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I knew it like I have never known anything before. How did I know? How did I know to pack up and go? How was it so clear?

I was thinking of this feeling last month on my trip to Costa Rica. I had the great honor to witness “the arrivabada” as they call it. It is this miraculous moment where some 3,000 turtles gather on that very beach, at that very moment to lay their eggs. How do they know? Do they follow each other on Twitter, and on that day, someone posts, “ok, guys, let’s go lay our eggs in Ostional, Costa Rica around 5:00 PM, today?” With the number of hours in a year, and the miles of beachfront in the world, how do they know to all show up right here, right now?

How do the flock of birds all turn right at the same time? Do they yell out in bird slang, “to the right?” How do they know? How did I know to uproot and cross the universe to come meet my destiny in LA?

One could argue that I could have ended up finding my destiny anywhere if I had chosen so. Maybe. I don’t know. When I sat there on that beach, with the pouring rain all mixed up with the tears of joy on my face, as I watched these thousands of turtles crawl up of the ocean like this very organized armada, it sure seemed like there is an order to the universe.