Alison's Writing Portfolio · On Places & Travel

Pacific Time — Worth, February-March 2015

“The East Coast is just a rough draft for the West Coast.”

This is something I started saying about fifteen years ago, because, like the pioneers, I was totally enchanted by the idea of better living on the Pacific Ocean. In California, my troubles would be more manageable, since things could be sorted out in New York before I was even awake. Also the light would be nicer, the wine, local, the weather, better, and then there was also this: it was the only place on the planet where I wasn’t chained to my desk.

At the time, I was just starting out as a writer — and as an adult human — and since I started freelancing right out of college, I was not aware that I was allowed to take vacations.  I thought if I turned down any assignments, I would instantly lose all my clients and my writing career. Without an academic calendar for the first time in my memory, and without a boss, there was no one to tell me it was okay to take a break. And since this was the era of the dot com boom, and because I had an amount of hustle that I marvel at now, I had more work than I could handle. I was writing so much that everything literally hurt.

So when a dear friend had a wedding in Sausalito, it was the first break I’d taken in about three years. The wedding was at a beautiful boutique hotel, and I made excursions to wine country, and to Muir Woods. After that, I made several pilgrimages back, to the exact same hotel. It was like the Bay Area was the only place on the planet that had the magic to free me from my self-made work prison. (I hear your hysterical laughter, Silicon Valley people.)

Eventually, though I figured out that I could take vacations in other places, too. I just had to decide it was okay for me to do it.

Fast forward to now, here’s this story I’ve written on travel to California, for Worth Magazine. It marks my official return to commercial writing, from which I’d taken a sabbatical. (Who gave me permission to do that? Why, I did.)

In part, this sabbatical happened because I was recovering from my brutally fucked up divorce. But mostly, I wanted to figure out another line of work to complement my writing, which meant going back to school. I’ve done that, those plans are well underway, announcement forthcoming, dontchya worry.

But it seemed appropriate to officially return to writing with a story on luxury vacations in California — the state where I learned that vacations were actually possible.


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