Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Implications Are Staggering!


So after I sign the lease at eleven a.m. tomorrow, I'll have a legal address in California. Next stop will be the DMV to get a California driver's license, and put calls in to get cable and have the electric put in my name.

So what it all boils down to is: I'll be a California resident.

Like, officially!

"Hi! I'm from California!"

Wow does that ever not roll right off the tongue.

It'll take some getting used to, that's for sure.

But I don't think that process will go on for very long.

Last night, I was talking to a friend of mine, a native floridian who has lived in San Francisco for a while. He was calling from his cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains. He was waxing rhapsodic about the State: there are so many beautiful parts of California, and so much wonderful about life here. You're really going to enjoy living here.

And I do feel like I'm a part of something. Similar to living in NYC, where I often felt like I was involved in some great project with nine million other people. That said, in my first years in the city, I thought of myself as a simple country boy, and in many ways I was. I think that mostly enabled me to avoid falling into the trap of the whole "because this great thing happened in a burned out performance space in a crack house on Avenue D in 1989 and because I was there that makes me way cooler than you" thing. I always found that to be really unappealing.

But still, living in NYC conferred on me a certain cosmopolitan perspective, but in the best sense of that word. Just because something was novel didn't make it good, but at the same time, it didn't make it bad.

Too, there's the whole September 11th thing. Living in the city through that showed me just how good nine million people can be to one another, and despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, it has forever convinced me that people--all people--are fundamentally decent and kind.

This fellow-feeling was wholly absent from my time in Pennsylvania, even way back when I was growing up there. There are identities there--philadelphian, Amish, pittsburgher, coal cracker--but the label "pennsylvanian" doesn't confer any additional information about a person. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard the term "pennsylvanian" used by anybody besides various governors of the Commonwealth. I definitely have never heard anyone say, "I'm a pennsylvanian."

But tomorrow, I will become a californian.

California girls. The Gay Marriage state (vote 'No' on Prop 8!). Californication. California, here I come! The Gold Rush. The Golden State. La La Land. San Francisco values. Big Sur.

The list of things that California evokes is almost endless.

"For about a decade, they lived in this place outside LA called Thousand Oaks. And they had this whole California lifestyle that they were living. With the swimming pool and the hot tub and the Ford Fairlane."

The people thus described to me were a fairly sedentary couple living in Westchester County. The response it prompted was, "Really? I can't picture that at all."

And at the time, I couldn't.

But now, I think I can.

Nephtali left me a voicemail message earlier this evening saying, "Where are you? Why can't you pick up my call? You're not in the pool again, are you? You'll shrivel up like a prune!"

I wasn't in the pool; I was watching Project Runway.

But now, as I type this, I'm sitting out by the pool, looking at the moon through the fronds of a palm tree.

Maybe getting a jump on becoming a californian tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

5 or 10 miles an hour over the speed limit is the speed limit in California.

And Palm Springs isn't at pokey as you think. It's the weekend suburbs for plenty of type A folks from LA. You should have fun.

And crashing on your motel bed is the perfect response for dealing with California and your last 5 years. The great thing about California is 20 pleasant years go by in what seems like an afternoon. And, suddenly, you realize it's been 20 years, but it's okay 'cause you're still smiling.

Welcome home, kid.

Anonymous said...

You may already know, but don't forget to register to vote. Thanks for the blog. Its a great read.