Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I didn't know I missed you.

I have such mixed feelings about Southern California. I lived here for a few years when I was a child. After we moved to Costa Rica, we would come back and visit family here, and our cousins taught us all the new slang we were missing out on in the eighties: awesome, rad, and even (shudder) tubular. I didn’t stop using the word “stoked” until I was in my twenties, and only because non-Californians laughed at me when I said it. I went to college here. It was all I knew of the United States, unless you count a trip to Disney World and two weeks in D.C. when I was a teenager. I thought the rest of the country was just like SoCal, because, really, why wouldn’t it be?

Then I moved away for good, lived in Northern California, the Midwest, the East Coast, and was completely disabused of that notion. And I have to admit that my main feeling was, how nice. How nice, not to sit in traffic for hours, to use public transportation, to have real seasons with colored leaves and white Christmases and summers that are green instead of dusty brown. How nice, not to have smog that hides the mountains you know are right there, or water shortages or earthquakes or sweeping forest fires every year. And I often think, why would anyone in their right mind ever want to live there?

And here I am, in LA for a weekend trip. And now what I’m thinking is, how nice. How nice, to see my family and friends and have buried childhood memories come to the surface. To go see the snow only if you feel like it, to have palm trees everywhere, and bougainvillea in December and beautiful sunsets, and produce aisles that are overflowing with such exquisite, inexpensive offerings it makes me want to weep. To eat real Mexican food and discover new California wines. To feel the stress I brought with me from the East coast evaporate the minute I got off the plane and walked into the flip-flopped crowd. And I think, yeah, I can see why you would live here.

I’m glad I got to come back. I came to attend a good friend’s wedding and it was completely worth it even though I wasn’t even here for 48 hours. I managed to cram a lot in and even indulge in a couple of things that, at least to me, are so uniquely Californian. One is See’s Candies. I have a couple of boxes in my bag. I know you can get them online. I know I can even get them at a mall in my area, but it doesn’t matter. I got them here.

The other? God help me, it was Hot Dog on a Stick. And it was good, too. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Now if only I’d been able to go get an In-N-Out burger, my trip would have been complete.

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