There is a saying: “You are closer to Heaven when home is near the sea.” That has become true for me living here in Isla Vista. Having moved here a scant five years ago, I have fallen in love with my paradise on Earth.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, much will be written about love: falling in it, falling out of it; where to celebrate it or where to escape from it. Tips on what to wear for love’s big night or how to hook-up will abound. I decided to add some thoughts to this season’s love theme. They might be a bit outside the box, as I share why I love living in Isla Vista.

My beloved husband and I live here in a modest studio. We choose to live a low-maintenance life. With one car and few possessions, we are able to enjoy where we live. And we both love Isla Vista! Apart from picking up neighbors’ trash, some parking snafus, and occasionally wearing earplugs to get some sleep, this is an amazing place to call home.

First off, the sheer beauty of the natural world is all around. A couple of blocks and we are at the beach. There are mountain views everywhere. The ocean cradles the coast, offering ample enjoyment. Dynamic swells of winter reveal its majestic life force hurtling against the cliffs. Then, when school year frenzy fades away, there are the sleepy peaceful waves of summer swims. There are moonlit walks. Long, lovely bike rides. The sun rising and setting in the seabed, no two the same. What’s not to love?

When my honey and I walk our cat in her kitty stroller, or bike, or skateboard, we love the hidden parks tucked throughout I.V. There are public fruit trees and colorful flowers in little patch gardens. Then there is the special pleasure in going past our town’s many holy places. At certain times, their sacred music reverberates in an inspiring way. And speaking of music, what a variety! Walk a block and you are bound to hear something you like. All genres are played, accepted, if not enjoyed.

Finally, what about the energy level exuding from living amongst people younger than I by three decades? It’s awesome! I am always learning from or being inspired by conversations with neighbors, or coffee shop chats. There is the constant vibration of learning, of pushing oneself to think beyond one’s comfort zone. The way students meet the challenges of professors, assignments, roommates, crowded conditions and schedules is creative and wonderful. The friendliness I find at the co-op, coffee shops, video store and other establishments seems rare outside of I.V. I am welcomed here, regardless of age, with genuine smiles and cheerful service. I love eating out with my husband at all the fun restaurants. The delicious variety of food within walking distance is really amazing. I find the same helpfulness and good nature at the Rec Cen, where I swim regularly. It’s a delight to live in a town with such a great spirit.

Yes, much is written about the “dark side” of I.V. I am aware it exists. It’s disturbing and troubling. Yet, I find it is a blessing to live here. This far outweighs the negative. There is so much to love in this one square mile. My darling husband and I even fell in love in this seaside community. Thank you to all who make this place so special. May you find as much love here as we have.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Mi amor, thank you for making this home for my heart. Te amo.