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Thursday, July 15, 2010

SoCal I hardly knew you

It is a fact that I am a native Californian, but one that I have not always wanted to admit. After living in D.C. for 8 years it has become easier to "out" myself but, because my hometown is 20 miles from the Oregon border, I usually say I am from the Pacific Northwest and, since I went to college at OSU and spent most of my adult life in Oregon, I sometimes say I am an Oregonian.

Why such an issue? Because, if you tell most people you are from California they immediately think of all that is not where I am from: Hollywood, movie stars, la la land, freeways and suburban sprawl like you cannot believe, Valley girls and bad actors that become politicians. When I was a freshman in college, a foreign exchange student from Columbia in my dorm complex learned I was from California and immediately thought that I would sleep with him. Common lore puts Santa Barbara in Northern California. I am happy to include San Francisco, but please, Santa Barbara is so not in the north.

So, recently my nephew and his wife relocated to Orange County for employment reasons and we all shrieked and moaned but, hey, they have two beautiful children and so, here I am in Laguna Niguel examining the natives. Most of them wear bikinis or Hawaiian print surf wear. All of the architecture is Spanish looking and there are a lot of palm trees. It is really very lush. We went to the beach yesterday and I was overjoyed to put my feet into the Pacific and the sand felt pretty much like up north, just not as dark. It's very bright.

The housing developments and shopping centers are endless. I am recalling a high school speech tournament where we were given the subject of megalopalis ..... well, here it is. One town stretches into another and there is not a hint of agriculture or even the desert that this all rose from. It's all the same stores that you see all across this country, but somehow they have a different aura: you need to go in, you need to have what everyone else has and maybe first.

Family prevails and I am very happy to stay with them. Simone and Dylan are delightful children and they are keeping me very active. Soon I will drive north and start hitting the landscape that I am more attuned to. Maybe even Santa Barbara will be looking better.

1 comment:

Lee Howe said...

Nice work Janet. Your insight is shared by many who believe there is a California Renaissance.