Well, we did it. All the hours of staring at a computer screen and massaging out flashcard-induced hand cramps did finally culminate in 18 hours spent here:

Add in about 1,600 clacket-y laptops and their owners (nearly vomitous* with fear) and that should pretty much give you the accurate emotional picture. There’s more to elaborate on here, but this entire experience has been stored in a lock box in my brain marked “Do Not Open Until November 16th,” which is the day I will know whether I can look back on this episode with amusement or deep-seated horror. So.

The days since then have basically been the two of us wandering around Long Beach, saying, “We live here now!” to each other in various shades of wonder and disbelief. I knew that our time on the East Coast was making me nostalgic for California, but it’s so great to discover that (now that we’re back) it was real nostalgia. By which I mean, the beach air about which we had been rhapsodizing really does smell that wonderful, and does lower your blood pressure by about 10 points. All our crazy 2nd Street denizens are alive and well, including the leathery shirtless drug dealer prowling the streets in broad daylight with his enormous St. Bernard. I guess I had been subconsciously worried that we “couldn’t go home again,” and it turns out we totally can.

Of course, you can go home as much as you want, but you can’t really stay there until you actually find an apartment. Which we just did. And I am crazy about it. I told M last night that I loved it like an actual person, and saw myself waking up in the middle of the night and padding down the stairs with our little in my arms, really quietly so as not to wake him, and nursing on the couch with the door to the deck open and letting in the breeze from the beach. He…didn’t quite know what to do with that information, but he likes the apartment too!

It currently resembles a natural disaster zone immediately after all the packages of aid have arrived (rubble + everything is there if you have an hour to look for, say, salt), so it’s not in the most photogenic state. Still, this part looks amazing, and I am constantly pinching myself over the fact that we actually get to live here.

It’s already being used for its highest purpose, as you can see…

…which is to have intense bro debates over beers. (The other highest purpose is reading fashion magazines under floppy hats, but you saw that picture already).

So, open invitation! Who wants to ignore the disaster going on in the actual apartment and come have cocktails on the roof?

*According to Dani, who was sitting in the front row near the bathrooms, “nearly” became “actually” more than once. Not sure how to even talk about that.