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.