When East Meets West: 10 things I’ve learned about California

by Beth Graham

I spent most of my adult life living on the East Coast. So moving to the West Coast was more the need to fulfill a fantasy than practicality. For me, the draw was kind of like that weird urge you have (or maybe it’s just me) to jump off the ski chairlift at its highest point. It’s a “I wonder what this would feel like” urge.

So here I am. An actual California resident. The “that would be cool someday” is in the now. I’ll spare you the predictable musings – traffic sucks, Muscle Beach is weird, it’s freaking expensive out here, it’s always sunny.  Here are some things that stand out to me:

  • There really is such a thing as a West Coast lifestyle. I can’t describe it, but it’s pretty freaking awesome. It’s in the air – a feeling, not something you can see. I often find myself thinking, “why didn’t I raise my kids here?”.  In fact, I recently declared to a friend that I’m never moving back east. Maybe I’m still in that honeymoon phase, but to me, living here feels like the next progression in life – that phase between being an empty nester and being an actual retiree where you embrace a more carefree lifestyle.
  • Diagonal crosswalks are the bomb! Do they do this other places? Because if they do, I’ve never seen it. Maybe it’s part of California’s (human) energy efficiency.
  • You don’t walk your dog here. You carry your dog. Seriously! Everyone carries their dog like it’s an Amazon package. My 70-pound dog is a beast compared to the micro dogs here. And the worst dressed. She doesn’t own one single outfit so I’m often self-conscious when I take her out in public because she’s dogbuttnaked. It’s that “I’m so behind in fashion” realization like the one I had when shopping for a 2-piece bathing suit for my 7-year-old daughter in Italy. There are no 2-piece suits, just 1-piece. Bottoms only.
  • Linner is a thing. The restaurants are packed at 4pm. No one eats at regular hours. Or do they sleep in after a late night at Viper Room so their meals are four hours off? That can’t be because the sun comes up at 5am here!
  • Sugaring is the new waxing. There are signs everywhere. Just Google it. I’ve yet to try but I will. And you’ll hear about it.
  • I never thought I’d miss rain! Yeah, the sunshine gets old. I just want a rainy day, complete with a booming thunderstorm. In other news, there’s an overabundance of car washes here.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a homeless person (or perhaps residentially-challenged is more politically correct) and your average Joe. I saw a homeless guy wearing a linen suit. No shoes. No shirt underneath. But damn, it was a nice suit. Which leads to my next point…
  • Goodwill in LA is like Nordstrom in Florida. Pretty sure I found one of Kim Kardashian’s throwaways there. But it didn’t fit – use your imagination!
  • There is a thigh gap in LA. Seriously! I notice them all the time. And I’ve caught myself staring on a number of occasions. I wonder if it’s a genetically-bred thing. Or maybe they’re purchased (she says as she Googles “plastic surgery for thigh gap”).

But nope. For all its weirdness. I’m not leaving. Yet. I may not fit in as a California girl – I don’t go to Viper Room, my dog doesn’t own a dress, I DON’T (and probably never will) have a thigh gap – but I walk a diagonal crosswalk like a native.

You may also like