I Love California

I miss California today. I miss the adobe bricks and Spanish architecture. I miss the passion fruit iced tea and oversized restaurants. I miss the mountains and oceans (they sure do look nice from the window of a moving vehicle) and I miss the long languid lunches. I might even miss the San Fernando Valley.

I didn’t realize what being from California meant until I left it. I moved out of the state when I was 21 years old after growing up in Ventura, a little slice of beach town heaven, and spending a few years in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During my last three years in the West, I lived in San Francisco for two years ( which I barely remember, not because I was wasted but because nothing of significance happens during the ages of 18 to 20) and spent a total of a little over a year in Los Angeles. It was a weird time for me back then—getting hit by a car tends to derail logical plans—and I basically lived out of a suitcase for thirteen months, moving from one sublet in L.A. to the other. I spent a month in Venice Beach, three months in Westwood, four months in Beverly Hills and five months in West Hollywood (in THREE different apartments—one on Curson, one on Ogden, and one on La Jolla). Even though that transitional period was rough, it was when I really began to fall in love with the place that I had always called home. After all, it had nursed me back to health after I nearly died and its beauty became something I no longer took for granted. By the time I left to go to school in New York, I was convinced that living in the city would end up being a blip in my life. I would spend every summer back in Los Angeles and move straight back home after I graduated, like so many Westerners do. Why wouldn’t I? California is the best, better than anywhere else in the country. It’s also where my family lives and the older my mother and father get, the more inclined I am to be near them.

It has been two years since I graduated college and I’m the last man standing out of all my fellow transplants. Friends whom I never thought would leave NYC went straight back to California after graduation. They cited jobs and money as the two motivating factors but I knew it was mainly because they missed their home. I understand completely. Even though I’m still here, my California pride grows bigger and bigger with each passing day.

What shocked me the most about the East Coast when I first moved here were people’s nasty misconceptions about California. For the record, California lovessss the East Coast. Oh my god, it thinks it’s so rich with history and the people have the most interesting humor and god, California would love to live in NYC one day. The feeling, however, is not mutual. New York treats California (and Los Angeles in particular) like it’s an embarrassing younger sibling that got sent away to boarding school. The people are uneducated, the fashion is lacking and the sun is too damn bright! This is a largely unfair and inaccurate perception of the West. I’m annoyed that California is even up New York’s ass to begin with, considering the East talks such mad crap on it. The ego of the East Coast, and New York specifically, needs to go. Their aversion to California just comes off as jealousy, which I’m sure New York would vehemently deny. “WHY WOULD WE EVER BE ENVIOUS OF CALIFORNIA? WE’RE NEW YORK—THE CULTURE CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY.” Yeah, but when you’re too busy sucking your own D, working 60 hour weeks to live in a shoebox and spooning a body pillow late at night because finding an LTR is next to impossible here, California people are eating a delicious burrito, working 39 hours a week, and living in a Spanish style home with their significant other who they met at a farmer’s market. So there! Get over yourself, New York and start drinking the California Kool-Aid. It tastes like dreamy sunflowers and lazy car rides on a Sunday afternoon and glowing skin and Joni Mitchell chain smoking in Laurel Canyon living in a dreamworld.

The longer I live in New York, the more protective I feel of California. In fact it seems like the more I fall in love with New York, the more I love California. Does that make sense? Am I allowed to say that both places are so damn special? Because they are. I’m beginning to feel like I can’t have one without the other.

I know that one day I’m going to have my “Goodbye To All That” moment and return to California indefinitely. I see myself vomiting and crying on the sidewalks of New York in my twenties and then graduating to owning a house in Los Feliz, getting a dog and having a salary with benefits. My roots are always going to be in California and thank God for that. I can’t wait for the day when I’ll be ready to experience the magic again. That’s what California is, you know. That’s what it all boils down to. It’s magical voodoo. It has healing powers. If New York destroys your soul, California will always be there to save it. I might not have lived there in four years but there hasn’t been one day where it hasn’t felt like home. TC mark

image – ©iStockphoto.com/Eric Hood

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • Joshua!!

    At first I thought this was gonna be another “la-di-dah” I live in NYC articles again. You sure changed my mind quick. I loved it

  • Sam

    I’ve never related more to an article on TC. Thank you for writing this, I’m glad someone finally did. I’m headed back in December for the holidays and I can’t wait for the revitalizing magic voodoo of the Pacific. 

  • AnnieJosephine

    I don’t usually comment on these, but this is exactly what I needed to read. I live in Seattle and haven’t been loving it so far and I was thinking New York would be the answer. I thought there was something wrong with the West coast, but that doesn’t sound to be the case. California sounds dreamy. Maybe I’ll just check it out! Not that I won’t still try New York.

    • Brandon h

      Don’t expect it to be a night and day difference. Washington is a lot like California attitude wise, only a little more depressed. 

  • Anonymous

    You are sooo channeling Joan Didion in the best way. Love it! 

  • Guest

    this is how i feel about the midwest… not even embarrassed to say so

  • Montyclift1920

    I agree that we’re always being crapped on by the East Coast, but I totes disagree about West Coast thinking highly of the East Coast. No one here really cares about it, and the East gets their panties in a bunch and calls us “vapid.”

    • Brandon h

      Yeah, the prevailing sentiment when I lived in California seemed to be “New York? Whats so special about it other than maybe Broadway?” 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=903990701 Rae Gross

    I have had a long distance love affair with NYC since I was 21, and recently resigned myself to the idea that we might never be in the same place at the same time. While I am sad I may never live in NYC, I have fallen completely in love with California, living on the beach in a huge one bedroom for half the price that it would cost in NYC. I am relishing the lovely weather, my 35 hour work week and having a boss that encourages me to surf on my lunches. So in conclusion, I concur.

  • Guest

    I was just thinking this yesterday. I love Boston, but I will always have love for California and will most likely return someday. 

  • Brononymous

    was this written by best coast or…

  • Alexandra

    Love the Didion reference

  • http://twitter.com/mtommasi Megan

    I’m an east coaster (NJ-VA-now FL) and need to move to CA. loving this article so hard. my fave line “met my sig other at a farmers market)

  • http://www.nicholeexplainsitall.com EarthToNichole

    Were you listening to Best Coast when you wrote this?

  • http://twitter.com/keithpinthecity Keith Pence

    I try to explain to people what it is about California that makes it so amazing and I always find it hard to come up with the words.  This article did perfect justice.  Rainy days like this make me miss the beach more than anything.  Luckily, I’m going to LA next weekend!  Wahoo.

  • NYCnative

    If you don’t like our attitude towards California, leave. It’s not our problem that you’re living in a neighborhood you can’t afford because it’s “chic.”

    Oh, and burritos are disgusting, ” Spanish style [sic] houses” requires a hyphen and we have those in Long Beach, NY (try leaving hipsterville and explore the region you so disparage), we have partners because we’re not looking for the perfect Californian transplanted to New York, and it’s ” cultural capital.”

    You want feel-good friends who are too fake to tell you how they really feel? Go back to CA and found a farmer’s market with them. Otherwise, deal with the constant reality check that is NYC.

    • Montyclift1920

      You kind of lost it with “burritos” are disgusting. Who says dumb shit like that?

      • NYCnative

        I generally don’t enjoy rice and bean mush wrapped in a tasteless tortilla, but hey, to each his/her own.

      • Parlousperson

        It’s hard to like burritos when you live in a city where they’re usually terrible.

      • NYCnative

        Spoken just like someone who knows nothing about New York.  I know, the Mexican neighborhoods are in SCARY parts of the city like Sunset Park, Sunnyside, Astoria, and Jackson Heights, you might actually have to leave Williamsburg (GASP!) to get there!!!!!!!!!

      • Brandon h

        Then you haven’t had a decent burrito then. Chipotle doesn’t count. 

    • http://twitter.com/peteroriondavis Pete Davis

      Jeez NYCNATIVE, sounds like you’ve got some deeper issues you need to take care of. 

      • NYCnative

        Yeah, the Californians in my city.

    • Brooklyn_Girl

      This was frightening. Chill, dude.

      • NYCnative

        That was reality, Brooklyn girl.

    • Bollywoodbattersea

      hoyl shit dude. you might want to relax. california is the perfect place for that ;)

      • Bollywoodbattersea

        and by hoyl i mean holy…

      • NYCnative

        I’m relaxed, I just can’t stand hipste—excuse me, “twentysomethings”–who come to this city and do nothing but complain about it.

      • PearAndBrie

        Funny, all I hear about the twentysomethings from New York is that they’re glad they’re getting away–even if it is just for a year or so.

      • NYCnative

        You’re talking to one right now, so I dare say if you’ve only spoken to the ones that left, you’re talking to a rather self-selecting group of voluntary exiles, no? Every expat young adult New Yorker I’ve spoken to in my travels can only rant about how much they miss “the city.” Shouldn’t you be farming organic vegetables or something, Pearandbrie? Or perhaps buying pears and brie at Whole Foods?

    • http://twitter.com/mung_beans Mung Beans

      you could really use an afternoon of downing xanax poolside on a sunny day

    • breemeup

      Congratulations, you just proved Ryan’s point! I seems to me like you’ve never been to L.A. You should fix that before you troll about us. (:
      P.S. Fresh carne asada burritos. Try one.

      • NYCnative

        (1) Me he probado los burritos de carne asada, y de todas formas me parece que falten de sabor.

        (2) I’ve been, and I find your materialistic, car-driven city to be utterly abhorrent and lifeless.  Your vapid comment simply “proves my point,” to borrow your self-assured logic.

      • Guillermo1210

        Grew up n Cal, currently living in NYC. Both cities are just as materialistic, if not NYC is more than LA. Also, I find people in California much more friendly and polite. NYCnative, it looks like you google translated that comment, or if not, then your Spanish is horrible. 

      • NYCnative

        Chúpamela pendejo es mi lengua nativa y me gradué con una especialización en castellano. K no es mi problema si tu eres incapaz de reconocer el subjuntivo en nuestro idioma.

  • Arturo Galarza

    WTF at NYCNATIVE??? I’ve never been to NYC, but I see what O’Connell is talking about now. 

    I haven’t related to an O’Connell article in forever and a day. I love this so much. Have been living away from California for over a year but going back indefinitely in December. Soooo happy to be back and can’t wait!

    • NYCnative

      Right, because you should definitely judge a city by what one poster in a comments section and one transplant says in a short article. You TOTALLY see what he’s talking about with that depth of experience.

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    I lived off Curson for about 9 months. Please tell me you weren’t around for the multiple incidents involving a PCP addict in the neighborhood at 3:30 in the morning.

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      As a former Angelino, these lines made me miss the west coast more than ever: “…when you’re too busy sucking your own D, working 60 hour weeks to live in a shoebox and spooning a body pillow late at night because finding an LTR is next to impossible here, California people are eating a delicious burrito, working 39 hours a week, and living in a Spanish style home with their significant other who they met at a farmer’s market.”

  • Ella

    I wanna go home. 

  • Anonymous
  • ferteauz

    This is how I feel about Chicago. It’s just simply missing home

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EUL6B7WZUNAHGMO5KRCKZTGP54 Damen Handle

      Same. Chicago and New York isn’t as much of a contrast as California and New York, but its still a difference and I know what you mean.

      To Californians- New Yorkers don’t just like to shit on you, they shit on everyone. Most New Yorkers don’t even know that Chicago exists,  or are completely dismissive of it. I always love taking my friends from the East out here when they visit Chicago, they’re always so surprised by the restaurants, the public transportation, the skyline, the streets, the neighborhoods, and the bars and music.

      I grew up in Chicago, went to school in DC, then spent two years in NYC, and now I’m back in Chicago. I love NY, its great, but there was way too much self D sucking and circle jerking going on for me. New York has vibrancy and dynamism, but Chicago has spirit and heart, and that’s what I need in my life now. There’s a part of Chicago that is firmly globalized and moves at a fast pace, with high culture, restaurants, art and music; but there’s another part of Chicago thats rooted in Old World urban America, with generations of families living in bungalow houses and eating italian beefs while watching the Bears. There’s something about walking the streets of Bridgeport or Logan Square and getting a Chicago Dog from a hole in the wall joint, hearing the conversations of old-timers in the neighborhood that always makes me smile. I love the fact that from there I can go out to a gallery opening in Wicker Park or a lounge in the West Loop, and still feel a part of the spirit of the city. That’s what I love about Chicago that I didn’t get in DC or New York, that you can be the type of person that eats a street gyro for one meal and then fois gras for the next and be completely satisfied nonetheless.

      Granted, my time in NYC was limited and my experiences don’t speak for everyone, and New York is a special place where so many dreamers come, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt as connected to day-to-day humanity and community as I do when I’m in Chicago. It really is a special, beautiful place to call home. 

      • NYCnative

        I have nothing but respect for Chicago, and I often find myself frequently under attack by Chicagoans who say New York is too dirty, too crowded, too real. Plenty of self-aggrandizement to go around in the “second city,” have a look in a mirror.

  • monster

    so good, boo!

  • Brandon h

    This so could have been a Biggie V. Tupac flame war bait, but it wasn’t. Good Job!

  • ryan chang

    i feel the same way. no one can talk shit on walking to the taqueria at 3 am in january in only a sweatshirt to spend $4 on 7 carne asada street tacos and a jarritos, smoke a spliff on the way back, masturbate in an adobe-style home, pass out, and wake up to clear skies and the sun, and hit the beach.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ubeda Joant Ubeda

    Norcal ftw!

  • http://twitter.com/koreyo19 Corey O

    +1 for the Didion reference.

  • http://cmcforum.com/life/09182012-my-butt-hurts-from-spin My Butt Hurts from Spin « Forum | The Official Student Publication of Claremont McKenna College

    […] The point is not that the PE classes are good because they’ll make Stags’ chests look super hot in pricey Italian suits (that we know they’ll all one day own); they’re good because they encourage you to get off of Green Beach, and do something – anything – to use that bod. Our school is looking out for us. It’s saying, “Have your No Regrets, but make sure you survive ‘til your first job.” Don’t be jealous of old friends who can keep their toned donks without spending seven hours a week in Ducey, they don’t have fresh golden tans from playing Frisbee in the California sun. […]

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