Toto baby, guess what

            I was prepared to move to Los Angeles.  It is, after all, just another city.  I have lived in cities up and down the East Coast.  I have lived in London.  In many ways, Los Angeles is simply another major metropolis, with wealthy people eating in the hot new restaurant, homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks, and a whole lot of people in between shopping at Target. 

            What I was not prepared for was moving to California.  I never really thought about it until we got here.  I would become a West Coaster, three hours behind my friends in Washington, D.C. and twenty degrees warmer than my friends in Massachusetts.  My frame of reference would change, and there would be no more talk about the 95 corridor or jokes about exits off the Jersey Turnpike.

            This weekend, we drove to Fresno for the first night of Passover.  It is about a four hour drive, although with J driving it does go a little faster.  J’s cousin and aunt live up there, in a part of California referred to as the Central Valley.  Angelinos tend to scoff at it, but Fresno is a quiet city with people just like any other.  I have come to find that most cities are that way, with the most important variation being the noise level.

            Not so with states.  Regions of the country, parts of the world, I have found, have widely varying rhythms, landscapes, and economies.  These last are what most fascinate us.  We love to ponder major industries and how areas sustain themselves.  Not that there was any mystery at all on the way up to Fresno.

            California is a farming state.  Not a farming state like other places I have lived.  Virginia and North Carolina will call themselves farming states, and I have driven past my fair share of cows in those places.  But, there is a difference between spending twenty minutes passing small farms with grazing cattle and spending three hours driving past factory farms of cows packed into giant pens and eating hay through the bars of a gate.  There is a difference between hills of tobacco fields taking up space between Richmond and Charlottesville and the flat, endless fields of grapes, awaiting their moment to become raisins.

            The landscape is different.  The economy is different.  The air is different.  I go about my day to day business, but I feel like I am making a wrong turn at every corner.

18 responses to “Toto baby, guess what

  1. It’s the spinach that gets me. How can one place supply so much perfect, pre-wash, pre-packaged spinach. It all feels sinister in a soylent green kinda way.

  2. California is definitely like a different planet in some ways. You’ll be discovering these things for quite a while ~ at least long enough to hold your interest for a while.

  3. My favorite is when the grapes are not yet in season and all you pass are miles and miles of sticks, or as we called them “stick farms.” As in “they seem to be growing a lot of sticks out here in the sticks.”

    Did you drive over the Grapevine (hwy 5)? There used to be a radio station that only played “Heard it Through the Grapevine” over and over again, in that part of the Hwy.

    Just a few of my favorites for you 🙂

  4. Hah hah, Mad! Crack me up!

    Emily, I think I’d feel exactly the same way. I’ve always felt that CA is practically another planet. And when you add in the potential for occasionally feeling yourself on less than solid ground, I’ve kind of nixed it as a place I’d do well inhabiting.

    But that’s just me…

  5. California is mostly certainly not Kansas. No doubt about it. I love it there in a “this is nothing like anywhere else” sort of way.

  6. ugh. i lived in the central valley for a while, too (bakersfield) the AIR there is so gross.

  7. What’s more, California is several different worlds. You’re in SoCal which is distinct from NorCal which is unlike central California… I’m a NorCal person myself – so NorCal in fact that I’d probably end up in Seattle…

  8. Oh sister, that’s how I felt when we moved from my hometown to Oak Park.

    Turns out I was right. I hope that you are not.

  9. Mad makes me laugh. it’s cause it’s so big here. we’ve got lots of green. and we love Popeye.

    Seriously, and then head past Fresno to the Central Coast, and then up to SF, and your eyes will keep popping. it’s like 10 states rolled into one.

  10. I had my small group girls (10th graders) greet Passover’s beginning by anointing the doorways of our church buildings with oil and reading Psalms over them. It was a neat experience.

  11. I’m thinking you must happy that you’ve at least got the sun to turn those grapes to raisins!! 🙂

  12. Areas like that certainly take some of the mystery out of the food supply chain.

  13. LA is one of the very few places I have ever been in the States and what I really recall was the heat. It was completely different to the heat in England, or the heat in France. I felt very close to the desert it once used to be, if you know what I mean. The orange juice was incredible, though.

  14. *Sigh*, transitions are hard. And for some reason, some of us make them way more often then we care to. Hang in there.

  15. yeah, but what about the farmer’s markets? I’ve only seen them on TV, but it makes me drool, drool, drool. Seriously, I can’t even find a garden share to buy in CT.

  16. OMS Mad said soylent green! ACK!ACK!

    Oh hon I want to fly there and hug you. You seem like maybe that would be good.

    You’ll get your land legs.

    If I can blend in here somehow, I have faith in you.

  17. Take a day trip – quick, before the blossoms fade – the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve. You will never look at California the same way again. It’s like being smack dab in the middle of the Wizard of Oz.

  18. and even one you get north of SF it’s like another world. really, California is so amazing. imho.