1. You start wondering where all the sarcasm went.
Your new friends, your new work colleagues, and the people you meet through these people don’t understand what sarcasm is. That callous bitterness does not exist in their world. They’re open minded, upbeat, and positive – in a genuine way. There’s no room for sarcasm because the underlying cynicism doesn’t exist in their world. This may be confusing to you at first and it will be like learning a new language to respond to their positivity without an unintentional jabbing remark.
2. Your blood pressure goes down.
You’re not fighting to get elbowroom in a restaurant. The pressure cooker environment that you came from has vanished and suddenly the air seems lighter, the headaches that you used to get after a full day have vanished and you’re feeling more energized. It’s not the fountain of the youth – you’ve just broken out of the madness.
3. Passengers regularly give up their seats for you on public transportation.
And it’s not because a homeless smelly person is sitting next to them. You’ll check the seat to see if there’s gum or water on it. You may look under the seat to see if someone left an empty suitcase possibly containing a bomb or other explosive device. Your paranoia has made you think that there is no possible way anyone would actually give up their seat out of the kindness of their heart, but that’s what repeatedly happens.
4. Strangers you pass say hello to you for no reason and you wonder what drugs they are on.
At first, it’s so unexpected that you say nothing. Then the next couple of times, you contemplate saying “hello” back but it just seems foreign to you. Finally, you fight your angry pedestrian tendencies and respond with a neutral, “Hey.” It will take some time until you can throw some enthusiasm into your greeting, but at least you’re trying.
5. You’ll find people inviting you to their backyard barbecue.
Even if you don’t know them that well. You’ll think it’s somewhat creepy, but they are just trying to be friendly. If you go, you’ll wonder why these people leave their front door unlocked for anyone to enter their house, why the keys to their cars are sitting on their dashboards and why their blinds and curtains are left open for anyone to look inside. You’ll be offered unlimited amounts of drinks, food and dessert and be welcomed with open arms. You’re wondering if this is some sort of a cult, but you realize that outside the Northeast, there are some pretty warm people who don’t assume everyone is out to get them.
6. People have time to listen to each other.
They’ll not just ask you how you’re doing, they’ll ask about your family, your job, and sit calmly, not checking their watch while they listen to the answers.
7. Your jeans will be worn to “fancy” occasions.
Like a birthday party at a nice restaurant, an upscale bar or a big night out with friends. Nobody cares whether your shoes cost $400 or $40 and you’ll be the only person who can identify what kind of fancy purse someone is carrying.
8. You’ll start incorporating color back into your wardrobe.
Your days of alternating between black, gray, and blackish gray seem rather grim. You start contemplating buying a shirt or two with pinks and reds in it. You feel slightly liberated and alive the first time you do this and then worry you’ll run into someone from the Northeast who will think that you’ve gone “soft.”
9. When people tell you that private school costs less than $45K per year, you think there’s a fire sale going on.
You believe there’s a 50% off sale every time you go to a supermarket. You don’t have to sacrifice your first born to afford a decent place to live and finding a parking spot won’t cause you to have a panic attack.
10. You’re skeptical and shocked when neighbors offer to water your plants, get your mail, or even watch your pets when you go on vacation – for free!
You’ll secretly think your neighbors are fools for helping you as you always had to pay for these things in the Northeast or owe someone a favor in return. You’re even more shocked when your neighbors don’t ask for anything in return and that they’re happy to have helped someone out.
11. You’ve stopped obsessing over losing weight, dieting, and finding a new wardrobe.
At least for a couple hours every day. There aren’t models and obsessive exercisers at every corner, which quells your obsession with fitness and looking good.
12. You’re not rushing to every single last commitment with packed, back-to-back things to do constantly.
Your tendency to over-schedule yourself has calmed down to match the slower paced lifestyle of those around you. You’re not jumping from one activity to the next to try and pack it all in. You’re just enjoying figuring out what to do next.
13. Not every person you know sees a shrink.
It’s certainly not considered as routine as going for coffee in the morning. Perhaps there are less reasons to see a shrink for outside of the Northeast.