California (Day) Dreamin’

By - August 6, 2008 (Updated: November 27, 2014)

I’m sitting in my hotel room in California. Today, I’ve spent my first quiet day in weeks. My mind is spinning. It’s not used to the quiet anymore. My body is so jet-lagged I’ve lost all concept of time. I have to stop and think what day of the week it is. I’ve been sleeping in two hour chunks. But there’s sun and I’m happy.

Our “vacation” is flying by. I use the quotes because, in fact, Andrew hasn’t really had a vacation yet. He did take some time away from the computer in Saint John, but he worked all week in Halifax and this week in California. My days have been jam packed – more scheduled than I’m used to in Brussels. I’ve been loving it but I’m happy for the rest today.

We spent a fun week with my parents in Saint John. We took a day trip to the Hopewell Rocks. We ate Mom’s cooking; visited the grandparents and spent time with Jenn and Stew and Daniel and Beth. It went by too fast.

Every day in Halifax, I spent with friends. It was fabulous. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year since I was last with them, but I guess that what it means to have true friends. I want to go back. I need more time. There are too many people to see, martini’s to drink, and far too much food to be eaten. I can’t bare to think about how much weight I’ve gained on this trip. I will have to torture myself with a strict gym and diet regimen when I get back to Brussels. I’ve never been good with strictness… or regimens.

Being in California is strange. I haven’t done much sightseeing yet but I have all week for that. Everything seems so big here – excessive: the hotel, the cars, the roads, the billboards, the food. Everything is much larger than it needs to be.

I can’t help but wonder if I could live here. (Whenever Andrew and I go somewhere new these thoughts cross my mind. The curiosity is stronger in California however as Andrew’s company has an office here. Moving here could be possible if it was something that we wanted). I loved California years ago when I visited. But I’ve since learned that there is a big divide between visiting and living.

I’m curious how living in California would change me. I believe that the places we experience can’t help but affect us. I know that living in Brussels has changed me. I feel like I have just managed to pare away all of the excess in my life. I love the bare bones that remain. I feel as if I’ve finally remembered what’s important to me. To live in a place like this, I fear I could lose my essentials under a mountain of consumerism again.

I can’t help but think of the benefits of being here though – the weather, the language, the availability of … well, anything you want, a culture similar to my own… did I mention the weather?

These are aimless thoughts for an aimless day. For now I’m going to enjoy the sun and the quiet and remember everything (and most importantly everyone) that’s important to me.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
- 2 days ago

1 comment

  1. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops August 6, 2008 at 01:12

    Slow down, you move too fast … You got to make the morning last … Just kickin’ down the cobble stone … Lookin for fun and feelin’ groovy … altho maybe California dreamin’ is becomin’ a reality … glad you’re havin’ a great trip, hard not to connect with the old songs I guess … the west coast has the sunshine and the girls all get so tanned but bring some home ’cause we’ve been missing it … strrreeeetch it oooouuut ( I noticed by your by-line that your posting today was tomorrow according to our calendar so slow that down for sure!) … lotsalov … PPunderacloudysky

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