Thursday, February 23, 2006

Home Sweet Home

So having been born here in California, I think I see it differently than a lot of people.

First off, make no mistake that there are actually three separate Californias. Southern and Northern California make up the obvious two. But most people overlook Central California, which is home to probably the most fertile farmland in the US, as well as a bastion of Republicans.

We have beaches, breathtaking scenery, Hollywood, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, the Gold Coast, surfing, great overall weather, earthquakes, Wine Country, skiing, desert, agriculture, the Missions, Lake Tahoe (well, half of it anyway) and almost anything else you can think of other than the World's Largest Ball of Twine.

To me, California is a state of contradictions. We have one of the hottest and lowest points on the planet, Death Valley. Then we have San Francisco, where the average annual temperature is 56. We have some of the priciest real estate in the world, yet we also have the largest homeless population in the country. It is the land of the multi-millionaires and the immigrant laborers who make less than minimum wage. Travel a total of less than twenty miles and see mansions and virtual shantytowns. We have some of the most liberal and cutting-edge laws, yet we still have the death penalty. On any given day on the freeway, you can see a car worth over sixty grand cruising next to a clunker worth maybe three hundred if they're lucky.

In California...

...the sun shines hard and bright.
...you can find the best ethnic food of pretty much every ethnicity.
...everyone knows someone in "the industry."
...Disneyland was built.
...we are the home of the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade.
...we have more pro sports teams than any other state.
...exists one of the best public college systems in the world.
...you can ski and surf in the same day.
...there are places where most people do not speak or read English, and don't have to.
...world-class wines are made.
..."historical" structures are rarely older than 60 years.
...parking is a usually a breeze.
...the cost of living is high.
...open land is being gobbled up by the acre.
...overall, the primary and secondary public school system is a shambles.
...our infrastructure is old and crumbling.
...property taxes, compared to the rest of the country, are low.
...we have the best weather of any state, yet tanning salons abound.
...we spend way too much time in traffic.
...despite all the negatives, we tend to think we live in the best state.


I'm curious. When you think of California, what comes to mind?

12 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

I think of the rich and oppulent and consumptive part and nice weather, of course.

chichimama said...

Sonoma and Nappa. I've only been to CA once, we keep meaning to go back. M is there about 4 times a year for business and I should tag along sometime. But then again, I don't really want to drag the kids on such a long flight.

Gina Marie said...

I grew up in Santa Rosa/ San Francisco and will be returning there for school in August! I live in Northern CA now. I just wanted to say that your whole article on CA was very well constructed and I enjoyed reading it very much! No one that's not from here realizes this but...."it's really the best place to live" ;-) Have a wonderful day!

Liz said...

I think of police chases, freaky weather with the mudslides and fires, plastic blondes and rollerblading. You know, the sterotypical stuff that us easterners see on TV.

Elizabeth said...

homos and freaks. Hehehehe.

Piece of Work said...

As a transplant, I love California, and surprisingly, even love L.A. But one thing that really bothers me is the ego-centrism here: everyone acts as if California is mecca, and to live anywhere else is folly. Yes, the weather can't be beat, but there's lots to be said for other parts of the country too. One thing I really want to make sure my kids do is explore this world, and not just accept California as the best place and stay here for always.

That said, I wouldn't move back to Delaware if you paid me.

Liz said...

Awww, piece of work, I live in Maryland and love it here! What's wrong with Delaware? I've only driven through there, so it's not like I'm defending it, just curious.

Gina said...

Liz, I think it is something that if you come and live here, you are addicted!

And, welcome Gina Marie, I have the same middle name too!

Heather said...

I have some great memories of California. I've been there twice and I loved it.
- visiting San Fransisco and Monterey with my mom, brothers, sister, and sister-in-law when I was in my early twenties
- visiting my brother, s-i-l, and their kids in Pleasanton a few years ago, when our oldest 2 girls were about 2 and three

I'd love to come back sometime. Thanks for all the interesting info :-)

WordsRock said...

California, the state of my birth, inspires thoughts of:
--Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm.
--naive childhood thrills when small earthquakes caused the chandeliers to sway and dishes in the cabinets to rattle.
--running across the Coronado Bridge during a half-marathon.
--attending my father's second wedding in Sacramento as a teenager and getting totally plowed with my new stepsiblings (I've never touched Wild Turkey again).
--a book I once read titled "The Late, Great State of California" in which the whole state breaks off and falls into the ocean. Interesting concept, that. :)
--how I now hug the east coast like a security blanket.

Suzanne

Awesome Mom said...

I am beginning to think of home when I hear the word California. I am a transplant to this great state, we only moved here because of my husband's work. The weather is incredible! I really love the part of Northern California where we are at, too far south for a ton of rain but far enough north for nice summers. I do also still have the stereotypical crunchy vegitarian environmentalist in my mind too because in this area there are a ton of them (not that there is anything wrong with that, more meat for me)

J said...

I was born in Berkeley, lived for 5 years in Alaska, raised much of my life in Stockton (ACK!), got out of there and went to San Francisco, moved to Philly for two years, moved back but couldn't afford SF anymore, so we have a townhouse in Walnut Creek.

So most of my life is in California, and I love it here. Most of the time. I did like how Philadelphia was green. And when I go visit my dad/sister in Portland, I think that would be a pretty nice place to live. CA to me is great because of the weather and the fresh veggies/fruit, nice wine, etc. But you couldn't pay me enough to live in the valley again, and I've never lived southern or farther north than Stockton, so I can't speak to the Shasta/Redding type folks. I would leave CA to go somewhere cooler in the summer, with progressive people and better schools, where I could afford a house with a yard and maybe even a basement. But it's fine here, too. :)