Place Where You Live:

Santa Barbara, California

Just outside my mailing address of sand, of stars, of boutique beach clubs, is a place of zen; a home to many, many, magical others. The eucalyptus grove twenty miles north takes in millions of monarchs each season and me. Upon arrival, a sign asks outsiders for silence in the breeding grounds, but I just think it would be bizarre to have that need for conversation. I can focus on each branch, each leaf that’s covered in flicking orange and black. Delicate wings we’ve been told countless times not to touch, amassed together in a giant lump. It might require my binoculars to distinguish the butterflies from the trees, but I don’t even need to see the details to feel comfort in this place. The gist, the aura, the vibe is unruffled; a feeling of tranquility whose origin I can’t isolate to one factor. The grove doesn’t have a dress code or rules, only open wings to welcome free thought and mindful exploration. Undisturbed, the visor wearing visitors swarming downtown are unaware of my thinking spot, and I only know to come to this place after an elementary science class field trip. A destination that stuck more than any presidio or mission because this life history is ancient compared to our founders. The instincts, biology and beauty are paramount. It may be the proximity to an insect I can never touch or the smell of the place, but it’s mostly the idea that the Monarchs know which leaf to settle on in the right forest at the right time that reminds me there are quiet, purposeful places no matter where I go that someone or something knows how to get to. A place that turns into a home for a new generation of butterflies and a new generation of thinkers.