Twelve years after leaving Newport Beach, I’m almost back to living here again. The past three weeks we’ve been on vacation in Newport, getting the boys used to coming back and making various arrangements. And as part of that return, I’ve had the strangest sense of a needle dropping back down on a record after being lifted or a long movie starting again after an intermission.
I don’t have the right word to define the experience. It’s not that my life has been on hold in all these years away. Not at all. When I left, I had no children and no idea what I’d be doing for work. Now I have two boys and a career covering search. There’s been plenty going on.
Perhaps it’s more that the life I left behind, that I pushed the pause button on, is starting to move forward again. I drive past places that are still here after all the years of being away. The Outback Steakhouse on the corner of 19th & Newport, where I’d never go but respect for being the one business after many that tried that’s managed to survive on that corner. Lunch at Charlie’s Chili, an institution at the base of the Newport Pier that’s still going strong. Laventina’s Pizza — formerly Valentino’s then formerly Laventino’s until Laventina’s became a name no one would sue them over.
I’ve seen all these places on past trips, of course. But now I’m seeing them knowing I’m going to see them all the time. They provide a sense of continuation — of picking up where I left off.
Far more significant was seeing a good friend who had his 45th birthday party coincidentally down here at Newport at the same time we were visiting. My former roommate, former coworker at the LA Times, suddenly he was coming by in the evening, hanging out, and we were all talking like it was old times. Except it was new times, the first of many.
At his party, I saw number of other newspaper friends that I hadn’t seen for years. It was really nice. It’s been hard seeing many friends that we’ve left behind here, when trips back have been relatively short. Normally, this would have been one of those nice to see them but who knows when I’ll see them again visits. Now, I had a real sense of I dunno, excitement, relief, pleasure that I’d get to see them far more recently.
Again, the feeling of the play button being pushed, of the needle dropping back down on the album. It’s been good to be back. I’m looking forward to getting back for good. Plus, gas is only like $4.00 per gallon here, versus $8.00 in the UK. But the best thing of all is probably seeing the sun set into the Pacific each night. That says home in a big way.
Look forward to hearing more about Newport when I get back. Or I hope you look forward to it, because I plan to be writing a lot about it.