Californians are strange folk. They seem (around the Bay Area, at least – the East Bay) to be much as advertised; fit, well-to-do, mostly pleasant, casual, and as liberal as Karl Marx.
They eat tofu, drive late-model cars, don’t yell, and rarely wear ties. Much to my surprise, they seem to sleep later than I would have expected (most healthy-lifestyle folks I’ve encountered seem to be early risers, but the office here is a ghost town until at least 9:00 AM). I suspect that this is because they are on the freeway at night.
But, then, they are on the freeway during the day, as well. When I get up and drive to the gym at 5:30, they are already all on the freeway, driving in both directions. I think that when they get to the end of the freeway (here, freeways have ends) they turn around and go back in the other direction, because, Californians on freeway, right.
Now I understand that the towns are designed around the freeways, rather than the other way around. For my first two weeks here, I couldn’t understand why it took me 15 minutes at lunchtime to drive the 3 miles to a noon meeting. Now I’ve learned to drive the extra distance to go to the freeway, and then take the freeway, and then get off the freeway – I’m probably traveling twice the distance, but it only takes me five minutes.
Coming home from the gym, I take two DIFFERENT freeways over a four-mile drive. It seems like overkill – I don’t think that this is what Dwight D Eisenhower had in mine – but it’s the only way to get around town, even a town with just 50,000 or so folks.
That’s not a big town, but the folks here are big-town folks. For instance, they don’t talk to each other. It’s sort of like New York in that they never look each other in the eye. Here, they are always, all the time, everywhere, everybody, looking at their cell phones. They walk down the street, go up the stairs or into the elevators, to the urinal or the coffee pot, looking at their cell phones.
You might think that they don’t look each other in the eye because they are looking at their cell phones, but I suspect that they are looking at their cell phones so that they won’t have to look each other in the eye.
They will be pleasant to each other if forced into actual interaction – pleasant, but not friendly. And it’s a serious difference. The people that they are friendly with are the people on their cell phones.
I…am a stranger in a strange land.
Home is Utah – or, rather, it isn’t yet, because I haven’t lived there yet. Ethel is living there now, making Aspen Drive a home, but it won’t be my home until I get there.
And I have a lot of freeway to drive on before that happens.