Just As I Thought

Nice place to visit, but wouldn’t want to live here

Have I officially become a Californian? My friend Jennie told me when I left that it takes about two years to really settle into a new place; she may have been right.
When I planned this trip back to DC, I was really looking forward to coming home, mostly because I missed my family and friends. That part held true, and it is great to see everyone… but the rest of the experience is really shocking. Three things have convinced me that my life in San Jose, as frustrating and expensive as it is, is to be preferred over life in the DC area.
One: Friendliness. For the most part, the people I have encountered here, from airline personnel to the front desk clerk of the hotel, are just unfriendly. I knew this when I lived here, so that’s no shock — but I always assumed that everyone was like that. But the people I encounter on a daily basis back in the Bay Area are far more friendly. They themselves believe that it’s not true, but it is.
Two: Traffic. Oh. My. God. The traffic in the DC area, which of course I have always complained about, is worse. The drivers themselves are horribly selfish and aggressive, and rush hours never stop. Returning to my hotel one night I found myself on interstate 66 at 8pm on Thursday. And it was at a standstill. I have to allow an extra half-hour to get anywhere, at any time. Back in the Bay Area, the traffic is far less contentious — although Californians believe that it is worse.
Three: The weather. I have to admit that yesterday’s snow storm was beautiful and I enjoyed it. Sara and I spent a good hour driving at 15mph down the interstate (all the while trying to stay out of the way of the aforementioned aggressive drivers speeding and skidding on the untreated, snow-covered roads). It was quiet and beautiful, and I did find myself homesick for a snow morning at home with hot chocolate, the unnatural quiet of the snow covered neighborhoods… but dammit, it is cold. The brutal wind that feels like acid eating away your face and ears; the gray, gray days. As I write this, it is 49° back in San Jose, 31° here in DC. That 18 degrees makes a huge difference, and I can’t wait to get back to the Mediterranean climate of the South Bay. Yet, Bay Area residents believe that a little rain is bad.
So, I guess that I am now a Californian. It’s not paradise, it’s expensive, and the job market is not so hot. But it must be good: someone told me the other day that I look unstressed… I may have finally learned that a more relaxing quality of life is preferable to a more stable life in a more stressful place.


  • ‘I may have finally learned that a more relaxing quality of life is preferable to a more stable life in a more stressful place.’

    As I crossed the 40-45 barrier my motto was.

    Earn less.
    Get by with less.
    Enjoy more.

    It really is the right thing to do.

    In fact because of your heart condition, I believe your moving out west to a quieter, less stressful life probably saved yours.

  • Sigh. I really believe people are nicer on the west coast (at least in San Fran, the only city there I am really familiar with) than in arrogant DC. Traffic: Now you know why I was about to kill myself after six months at that job where I had to drive all day. People here are jerks. I’m sure you saw that someone else got arrested for throwing a drink in another person’s car. And yeah, the weather. Even with the SF fogs I probably wouldn’t suffer as much from SAD.

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