Sunday, November 06, 2005

Coastal Diaspora

I say it's about time. I'm sick of seeing an electoral map that shows large patches of unoccupied land electing presidents. People need to spread out across the country more.

And, as ignorant as it makes me sound, I completely understand this
A year ago, Melanie Fischer, a lifelong Californian, was not entirely sure where Missouri was. So when her husband proposed that they consider moving there, she raced to locate the state on a map printed on her children's placemats.

Eleven years ago, I, a lifelong fifth generation Californian who never lived more than a couple of miles from the San Francisco Bay, was not entirely sure where Wyoming was. That's where we moved when Mare Island closed and my dad got a transfer to F.E. Warren.

It's not that I was uneducated, it's just that I didn't care. To me, California was the center of the universe, and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. And it wasn't a sense of superiority or disdain for the middle states that made me not think about them...I just never thought about them. But we need to care, especially since large patches of unoccupied land are electing presidents.

My parents were the same way. My uncle, who is from Missouri, would tell my mom, "There are other places to live besides California," but she didn't believe him until she was forced to move. Now they can't imagine going back to live in California. When a bad commute in Cheyenne means not being able to get from College and I-80 to Dell Range and Yellowstone in 15 minutes or less, who could blame them? One time, I got stuck in a traffic jam in the Bay Area in which it took three hours to go a quarter of a mile. Of course, as a native, I knew which direction to go at which time -- that traffic jam was a weather-induced fluke.

As beautiful as I think the Bay Area is, I only want to go back to visit. So far I love Colorado and am happy that, just as I moved here, it turned a little more blue. Occasionally I will miss some things. The only Mexican food I've found to rival California's is at Consuelo's in Fort Collins, though apparently no one outside California does a big burrito wrapped in foil. They're always "smothered" or "wet," or at least sitting on a plate in a pool of sauce for fork consumption. In fact, I never heard of a "smothered" or "wet" burrito before I moved out of CA.

And when my husband and I watched The Fog -- which I hadn't seen in a whole lot of years -- this Halloween, I said "hmm, that countryside looks like Inverness," which it turns out it was, then recognized the light house at Pt. Reyes. Pt. Reyes, if you ever go there, is a trap. It's easy enough to walk down the stairs to check out the lighthouse, but then you turn around and notice that the stairs go up 30 stories. On second thought, that's probably not daunting to people accustomed to high altitude walks. And the sound of the fog horn sent a happy thrill down my back.

I don't know how the native mid-westerners feel about kooky coastal types moving in next door, but I welcome it.

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