Truth be told, my extended stopover in Orange County as a 22 year old felt more like a serious life-regression rather than an interim stepping stone to adulthood. In a considerably brief four month period, I managed to hit impressively low and questionable points in my post-collegiate life, and often times questioned if I had managed to completely hijack Charlize Theron’s shameful Young Adult persona.
While yes, I may (pretend to) regret the multiple Friday night outings that ultimately concluded in 3am pancake puppy sundaes at the local Denny’s with my partner in crime, overall I have concluded that this dark age was a necessary evil in my life. I seized the opportunity to relive my high school years, this time armed with whatever social aptitude and drinking ability I had gained during my collegiate years (the second best thing gained next to my diploma…thanks Mom and Dad).
Saturday nights spent remedying teenage angst and boredom with competitive Air Guitar were replaced with outings to gaudy beach-city lounges and seedy, local Irish pubs. And when the demography of aforementioned establishments included slick AARP members, OC phonies who spat more half-truths than game, 4’9 jet-setting Chinese businessmen, and occasionally Dennis Rodman, I wondered how I possibly managed to escape to my next chapter in life with my bachelorette status in tact.
Although some familiar routines of my PG13 OG OC lifestyle were coated in moments of rated R shellac, my favorite hometown traditions withstood the test of time. Scenic drives around my cookie-cutter neighborhood were set to the musical stylings of DJ Abrags and DJ Chansen, slothy afternoons were spent at the neighborhood pool where I momentarily achieved 50 shades of brown, and on many occasions I was detained by my retail stint at J Crew, where getting dressed for work felt like a plaid pissing contest amongst my commission-hangry coworkers. I was also thrilled to return like a Jedi at the Original Pancake House, where I demonstrated to their dino-aged staff that I have continued on my journey of perfecting the art of chocolate chip pancake-inhalation.
Aside from the adventures I recreated with my galpalz, I will miss much of what my homestead has to offer. Orange County has a distinctive personality that will always hold a small, but special place in my heart. Not many counties can boast having spawned an entire repertoire of reality television shows, satirical films, or an impressive bunch of angsty 90’s teen bands (No Doubt about that one, amirite?). And while I will never Balayage highlight my hair at a Newport salon, zoom whiten my teeth to an impressive shade of day glow, or give up my spot in the IBT committee in favor of flotation devices, I will always proudly consider Orange County to be my home.