Because every dorm room is a cramped box furnished with heavy oak bunks, fluorescent tube lighting, and a sliding window that sticks. You flew to the opposite coast to find yourself, knowing no two oceans are the same. You unpack photos of foliage and snow drifts and a boy who only calls when he’s sad. You pepper the room with incandescent bulbs and string lights and a giant poster of Bob Dylan. Above your bed you tape a quote about how the mad ones are the only ones for you, and maybe that’s true, and isn’t love a form of madness, anyway?
But outside, there are orange groves. Tucked in these hills there are mansions. Down these twisting roads you find sand and sea and a sun that never loses its sheen. It’s easy to fall in love with the radiance. With the salt. With the slap of the waves against a pier. It’s easy to gaze at the setting Santa Barbara sun until you glimpse the green flash (even if you never see the flash and wonder if anybody does).
And you do meet a boy in a dorm room, and when you’re older and shivering through another East Coast winter together, you’ll wish you could return to the time you met, but you won’t long for the dank carpet, or the accordion closet doors, or the purplish glow of a black light. Instead, you’ll miss the Santa Ana winds on a starry night. The sand that stuck to your scalp. The small moments you summed up with song lyrics. There will come a day when you’ll remember falling in love with the California coast, but you won’t remember why you left.