Columns, Opinion

SHANFIELD: Going back to Cali

I’m moving back to my hometown in Southern California at the end of May. I will be taking residence in a lovely four bedroom, 3 1/2 bath house in a quiet Orange County neighborhood with good schools. I will be living with two roommates ‘- a couple ‘- who own a dog and inexplicably look like me.

Moving back home isn’t what I’m worried about. The frustration I feel about sharing a house with two people who are so old that they still use AOL is far outweighed by my anticipation of re-adapting to a Southern California lifestyle. The thought of this makes me want to crawl under my winter coat (now for sale on eBay) and die.

I never played into ‘being Californian.’ I like to be on time and freak out irrationally at little things. When I wear sweatpants, I don’t also style my hair nicely and put on big sunglasses to take a walk down Rodeo drive like I’m ‘dressed down but still fabulous.’ I wear them because I feel like looking ugly and don’t want to see daylight, like a normal person in sweatpants should feel.

In short, I’d rather stick a California-grown avocado in my eye than have an entire conversation about how nice it is to have an organic brunch out on the patio in February. This attitude makes me too uptight to for Southern California. That’s why I moved here, where I could be around other uptight people.

At the beginning of every Boston University student’s career, they meet a statuesque sun-kissed tool bag from California in their dorm or outside of College of General Studies. This person never becomes a consistent friend because all he or she can talk about is how much better California (a state) is than Boston (a city). He or she constantly reminds you that you’ve been eating horrible burgers all your life because you’ve never been to the magical kingdom of In-N-Out. Years later, it is discovered that this person spent a semester at BU and then moved home to attend Santa Monica Community College in hopes of getting into Stanford University.

I think I took more enjoyment hating this person than anyone else did. I’m normally pretty judgmental but when it comes to other Californians, I am irrationally unforgiving. Perhaps as a freshman, I felt that by separating myself as a Californian who didn’t brag about boogie boarding in January would help me fit in with the non-Californians. Looking back, it was simply being uptight that did this for me.

I still had friends from California, but they were all as self-loathing as I was. We didn’t understand why it was so important to compare our hometowns to Boston, as they were clearly different time zones and therefore exempt from comparison. I would have rather wasted my energy doing something else like, gee, I don’t know, making friends rather than alienating people by talking about stuff no one cares about.

Californians use their state as a status symbol. I catch myself winning arguments by saying ‘I’m from California,’ and I realize that no other state has people as arrogant as us. Yes, we have laidback attitudes and good Mexican food, but those attitudes cause traffic of South Asian proportions and that Mexican food is more often than not produced by undocumented immigrants who, because of our strict visa laws, can’t get a job anywhere else. We have problems just as big as the next state. Plus, our governor played a pregnant man in a 90s movie, and we wonder why our public education system is so terrible.’

Now that I will be working in Los Angeles, I worry about social scenarios that I might ruin with my extreme disrespect of Californians. I imagine that I will meet a group of girls (undoubtedly followed by a camera crew) who invite me to go to the popular Hollywood nightclub Les Deux with them. After the bar closes, there will be no move to get pizza because they’ll want to go spin class in the morning. This is my hell.

But I am one of these people. Just because I lived in Boston for four years doesn’t make me a Bostonian. I still grew up with a Disneyland pass and surfboard in the garage. I have an identity crisis as all of us do who move out of state.

So many of us are about to move home, and adjusting to life in a new city will probably be unpleasant. But I think I’ll be okay. As long as I find someone to hang with who will eat pizza instead of Pinkberry, California won’t be half as bad as it could be.’

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