California Dreaming (on such a winter’s day)

I’ve been in California visiting my sister. She lives north of L.A. where it’s warm and sunny and there are flowers blooming and the sweet smell of salt and florals in the air. In some places, like along the boardwalk in Ventura where the surfers congregate, even the smell of vomit and urine roasting in the sun smells sweet to me. I just can’t believe that as the Midwest has had day after day of below freezing temperatures for so very long, there are people elsewhere in the world who are playing outside in the surf. They’ve been so quiet this winter, these sunny-place people. They’ve kept their secrets well while the rest of us have been filling feed after feed with weather notices and plaintive indictments of the cold.

Flying back into Indiana last night after all that good sun really was like being dropped into a mood cloud–my poor dark state full of pasty overweight people. The pessimism, needless to say, was contagious, especially when faced again with all the unfinished business I’d left behind.

We’d had dinner with the Lickonas one night which prompted discussion of whether or not a coastal move would ever be in store for the Duffys now that my husband’s company has relocated to Carlsbad. And I was full of hypotheticals about how, perhaps it is conceivable, assuming we’d consent, but consent isn’t likely since we are Midwestern to the core, and we love our deciduous trees, loamy soil, and pastoral farm land. Our families are here, the cost of living is so low, and the yards are so, so big. Who could give up the ribbons of two-lane highways and low gas prices in exchange for grid-lock and fuel emissions testing? Who could exchange the $100,000 mini-mansion for the million dollar bungalow? The cows grazing on tall blades of bending grass for the arid industrial strawberry complex?

Well it turns out my Midwestern affections are more fickle than I first thought. I get it now. I get why people want to live in Southern California. Aside from the fact that my sister and her family are there, and I always want to be where they are, aside from the lemon and avocado trees that grow in people’s very own backyards, aside from the incredible thrift stores on main street in Ventura, aside from the ocean which serves as both a constant source of entertainment and a reminder of one’s mortality, I get the appeal of living in a climate where it’s an eternally pleasant summer. Would I miss the four seasons– the tundra of winter, the rain forest of Indiana summers, and the brief but ever-so-lovely Spring and Fall? Actually, I’m just not so sure anymore.

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