An open letter to San Luis Obispo

You rained last night but I didn’t mind. When I woke up my friends asked me if we should still hike your tallest peak and I said of course, and when we reached the top we all laughed at the idea of abandoning our plan for the day. We were taller than the clouds. The sky was grey but there’s no such thing as an ugly sky when you live in such a breathtaking town. Even grey looks good as the fog dances with the peaks of your mountains. It makes the greens a little greener. The rocks a little more slippery, but that’s okay too.

You have an uncanny ability to feed my sense of adventure. I could be scared but I know you’ll take care of me. You’ve brought me to some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. To the ones who keep me safe and the ones who crack me up. I owe you one, SLO.

The sun always seems to shine a little brighter with you. And my summer shadows feel longer and my heart skips a beat ā€” sometimes two ā€” once I cross your county line on the 101. Because I know, there’s only 32 more miles until I exit and we’re reunited. You’re my best friend. Or at least, you’ve brought me to some of the best friends I could ever ask for. Thanks for that.

And thanks for making sure Avila’s always sunny on my birthday. Birthdays by the ocean were too good to be true until I met you. I hope I’m not jinxing it by telling you this 20 days before my birthday. Consider this my sun dance.

Oprah didn’t need to tell me you were the happiest city in America. I knew when I was in fourth grade and I wrote a poem about my favorite place. I told Nana all about it. Most days I wish I could still tell Nana. Write more silly limericks about it. But I don’t need to write a limerick. I see it through the window when I wake up in the morning. I feel it when I finish a tour and people applaud. Or when I run into someone and they hug me like they haven’t seen me in ten years. Or when I go to a class I love. Or when I come home after a long day and my apartment smells like freshly baked banana bread.

Or when I’m at the top of a mountain with new friends and we YELL AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS. Because we can. Because we’re at the top of a mountain and we have the lung capacity to do so and we hiked to the top of this mountain and we’re together. Glued by our love of YOU, San Luis Obispo. Glued by the fact that you put a smile on our faces.

I wanted to write you a letter because most of the time I’m pretty good with words. But I guess I didn’t really need 500 words to tell you how I feel. But I wanted you to know, San Luis Obispo, that I love you. It’s more than a crush. It’s more than a “I want us to be better friends.” I love you. And I owe you one. I can’t thank you enough.

Thanks for the rain and the sun and the mountains and the ocean and the family and the thousands of reasons to wake up every morning. You’re the best.

Yours,

Han

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