Bursting the Bubble

by Brian Carroll on August 13, 2013

Post image for Bursting the Bubble I recently came across a writing contest my local paper was putting on (you can see a full list of winning writing and photo entries here).  Having been displaced throughout the world for the majority of this past year (though always feeling a pull back to where I'd been living), I decided to reflect on my perspective of what has been my hometown since 2005.  Here's that brief story: Those of us who’ve lived in the South Bay for any substantial period of time are familiar with its well-deserved nickname “The Bubble.” It reflects the fact that the South Bay provides many of the characteristics people desire – tight-knit communities, beautiful beaches, great restaurants, a wealth of social activities, a safe environment and a personality that so coolly blends the ideas of “active” with “laid back.” The South Bay is just far enough removed from the traffic, sprawl and attitude that Los Angeles is known for that it has been able to maintain a unique identity within an expansive metropolis. I had been happily entrenched in “The Bubble” since 2005, exchanging my car on weekends for more rudimentary forms of transportation — beach cruisers and my own two feet. This simplicity made me happy, but a little complacent at the same time. So in 2012, I quit my job, packed up my belongings and embarked on a year of traveling across the world, living out of a backpack that might more properly be used for a weekend in Las Vegas. I made it a point to visit some of the world’s great beaches to compare them to Southern California’s. These included the entire east coast of Australia, the island chains of Hawaii and Fiji, the unexpectedly beautiful beaches of New Zealand, Rio de Janeiro and the coastline of Brazil, the islands in Thailand and America’s east coast, ranging from Miami, Florida, to Bethany Beach, Delaware. I also made a point of returning regularly to the South Bay. As they say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Whether I was flying back from Sydney, Hong Kong, Rio De Janeiro or Washington D.C., each time there was a level of anxiousness, almost giddiness returning to where I’ve called home for most of my professional life. Except for a new restaurant or building, each time I returned it felt as if I had never left. The South Bay has a way of maintaining its identity in an ever evolving world, which to me, makes it a very special place. It’s a true community within a metropolis where I can randomly run into a friend walking down the street, at a restaurant or at any one of numerous public events. Today as I write this, I find my great travel experiment winding down. While I have revived my appetite for travel (even in my own LA backyard), more than that, my experience has reaffirmed my love for the South Bay and taught me firsthand just how special a place it is, something I will never again take for granted.

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