Am I Lost, or is this Santa Barbara?

Greg Henry on the beach in Santa Barbara

Despite (or maybe rather because of) COVID I’m in Santa Barbara, CA. I’ll be here an entire month.

I used to live here in the 1980s and still have friends here so it’s not exactly a vacation. I love to travel but frankly my favorite sort of travel isn’t what most people would call “vacationing”.

A vacation implies a break from something. But, again despite COVID, I’m happy with the way I live my life and I don’t really need a break from it. That’s the difference between vacationing and traveling. When you travel you bring your life (and your life’s experience) with you. 

A month in Santa Barbara suits me fine just. I’ve been the primary caregiver to my 89 yo mother-in-law these past 6 years. It was a life changing experience. That’s ended now. She passed away quietly on July 31, 2021. I was the only other person home at the time. It was unexpected (as much as it could be). I held her hand and it was all over in just a couple of minutes. It was probably a stroke or some sort of seizure. Which makes it sound like it wasn’t as peaceful as it actually was. That’s the kind of experience I’m talking about. The kind that doesn’t leave you no matter how long or how far you travel from home. You always take it with you.

While in Santa Barbara I’m staying with a longtime friend. Ken and I have our own little cottage on the property. We’ve brought the dog and we’ve made no real plans. Plans are for vacation. This isn’t a vacation. It’s more of a trial run. Could I live in Santa Barbara again?

I’m not sure. But in the meantime this is a good setup. I like staying in “homes” as opposed to hotels. It’s fun to just hang out and feel like you belong. I like poking into cupboards and rearranging things to suit me. Small changes can make new places feel like home in ways big changes never could. No longer being a caregiver is a big change.

As I said I don’t know what I’m going to do over this next month. But that’s my idea of bliss – a vacation at home. Even if it’s not my home. 

No one’s life is it a blank slate, nor is it set in stone. New experiences help us continue along our chosen path. When I travel I like to visit the places that the people who live there go on a daily basis. You get to know a lot about the way people live. You get to know their culture too. Naturally I’m apt to compare my culture to the one I’m seeing reflected in a vegetable market, a taco stand, or even a popsicle truck. It’s not hard to do, because like I said, I always bring my life with me.

But what does that mean? My life for the next month will certainly look different than it does when I’m in Los Angeles. For starters this blog is going to look different. Perhaps you see that already. There’s no recipe attached to this post. I may not post recipes all month.

Not that I won’t be eating. To folks like me the sharing of food is the basis of social life.

That’s because no one who cooks cooks alone. Even when we’re cooking for one. If I find myself in the kitchen while I’m here in Santa Barbara I’ll be surrounded by my history with food and this blog. I might not be writing recipes but I’ll benefit from all that these past 13+ years of blogging has brought to me.

I’ll still be following my favorite cooks. People who like to cook like to talk about cooking too. But you knew that. After all, without one person giving another person a tip or two in the kitchen food as we know it would be entirely different.

Which brings me back to my thesis. When I travel I bring a part of my life with me. I may not be cooking but I’m always living the life of a cook. That life includes this blog and it includes you. GREG