Sundaze – 7/24/2016

By the time you read this, I will be finishing off packing to head off to Bass Lake, my favorite place in the world. My heart beats a little faster just thinking about the water, the smell of pine trees, Forks burgers, the docks, and quiet nights. There is no other place that has ever touched my heart the way Bass Lake has, and I will always be home to me. Really in a sun-daaaaaze right about now.

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And just like my crazy excitement for a few blissful days at the lake, I am proud to say that yesterday, my little corner of the internet had a birthday. That’s right: A Heart Wide Open turned two! Two years ago, I was sick and tired and heartbroken. I was still thinking about letting go of it all. I still hated myself so much. One year ago, I was wildly happy–partly because I was dancing around Disney World (which I so wish I was doing right now). I still had Bad Days. Days that I refused to smile or talk to people or eat properly. But much more often than that, I was laughing and writing and feeling happy for absolutely no reason other than the way the trees swayed with the wind.

And now I am about to turn twenty-one. Still having Bad Days, of course, but I am living through it. I have been pushing myself a little bit these last few weeks, especially. I told you about how reclusive I have been. I mean, I still spend my nights with Netflix, but I have been doing so much more than that.

I putted my way in Phillip to Santa Barbara to spend time with my wonderful cousins from Boston. I haven’t seen them in over a year, and I missed them lots! I was very proud of my little Old Sport for making it all the way there! It was a bit rough, but we did it, and it was very worth it.

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We made dinner with very limited cookware and ate dinner on cardboard boxes by the pool. It was interesting, to say the least. The kids played about ten games of Water Pong on the special pool float made just for the drinking game and relaxed in the hot tub. There was some fighting off June Bugs (in July????) by the fire and a burning of a black widow. Literally, we flicked it into the fireplace. Bye, Felicia.

I miss them already, and I cannot wait for Renee to visit when she starts looking at colleges! Her dad said that she could only look at schools in California–score!

I got to spend a few days in the Burbs and see Gracie. We got breakfast at a little place called Bea Bea’s, and I about burst: french toast with nutella, marshmallows, brownies, and Captain Crunch cereal and a California omelet (turkey, avocado, the works). I never want to shared breakfast and talk about boys and writing more than I do with Gracie.

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She is now in Pennsylvania, helping her dad on the set of his movie Getting Grace. Yes, she is the inspiration for the main character. How cool, right? I cannot wait to see the finished production!

A few boring days followed until Tori, Lo, Lo’s friend Shannon, and I drove up to Big Sur for the first time. It was gloomy, but so, so, so worth it. There was a stop on the way where you could just watch elephant seals do their thing–which isn’t much, let’s be real–but we could not stop laughing at the way they flopped up and down the beach. Their barks sounded like a garbage disposal, and it had us in stitches. When we found Sand Dollar Beach (after getting a little lost), we found almost everything but sand dollars. We climbed on rocks and stuck our heads in little caves and listened to good music and took more panoramas than I know what to do with! I saw a bunch of little crabs while I searched for starfish. Unlucky in finding the latter, I still had a blast.

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There were so few people there that it was fabulous to have the place mostly to ourselves. Not having to fight anyone for the good picture-taking or exploring spots was great. We got to have our own adventure without having to worry about anyone else.

Getting away from the gloom, we ventured towards Salmon Creek, just a little closer to SLO than Big Sur, where we walked for all of five minutes before finding paradise a waterfall that let out into a freezing cold but beyond cool little pool. It took some prompting (and watching two girls leap in and climb behind the falls) before the four of us stripped down to our suits and froze our butts off. I mean, I had work later, so I didn’t get further than my thighs, but I still made sure to get almost the full experience. Definitely worth it seeing how cold Tori and Lo were after getting out.

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Working until four in the morning that night was rough after a wild day, but I have zero regrets about doing it. Zero. That’s a fun thought: actually having no regrets.

Then we bought a couch! And boy, was it a task getting it from across town into our third floor apartment. With the help of my family friend and one of Mads’ friends, we pulled it off. I mean, the couch nearly went off the ledge a few times (and we nearly let it), but it looks so good in our empty apartment. And it is so comfy, the Rats are going to have some bomb movie nights together after Mads and I get back from abroad.

That afternoon I went to work, but then left the safety of my apartment (GASP!) to hang out with Mads and her CRP friends. There were slurpees and HGTV, and if that is not a good night, then I don’t know what is.

And thank goodness for Amy for getting me out again to watch the sunset at Montaña de Oro. We got Blaze pizza before and then drove out! I had never been before (a lot of firsts!), so it was an adventure for me. Amy and I found a sandy spot to eat our dinner to the tunes of Ed Sheeran’s first album. Like Big Sur, we were alone, and the quiet was so peaceful. I got to really appreciate the time with a great friend of mine.

And then we walked down to the water for the real sunset. It was not a beach, more like just rocks and then Pacific Ocean. It made for great pictures–more panoramas! I saw more crabs, too! No starfish again, but I also saw a little fish swimming with the tides coming into the crevices of the rocks still connected to the ocean. A place this beautiful, I expected to see so many other people, but there was not a soul in sight. It reminded me that I did not need a room full of people to be able to be out there in the world and making real memories. These were just as, if not more, meaningful as any of those great nights I spent dancing on tables at frat houses. Seriously, thank God for Amy for taking me cool places.

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And now I am about to be off on another adventure. A mini one before I really take the leap and move to another country for a few months. Two years I have had this blog, and that is two years of this journey y’all have been taking with me. Standing by me.

Grateful is an understatement. A huge one.

So much crazy love, Ash ❤

Two years down, countless more to go!

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