Saturday, February 11, 2012

The End of the Road in California

     I once made the drive across country -- it was in 2004 when I brought my daughter's car out to San Francisco where she was going to college. I left home in New York and first headed south to Jacksonville, FL, to visit my sister. Then I got on I10 and took it all the way west, stopping for a few days in Phoenix to see my other sister.

     I continued on I10, 2500 miles in all, until I arrived at the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. And as I looked out over the Pacific Ocean, I realized I was truly at the end of the road.

I didn't see Brad Pitt
     Now on my current trip I'm staying in a townhouse/condo type place, just a half a block up from the Pacific Ocean. And once again I am really aware that I've come as far as I can go, without getting wet. It's fun to walk down to the beach at sunset, along with a scattering of other tourists and locals, and watch the sun go down over the water, knowing you're among the very last of your fellow Americans to see the sun wave goodbye to the continent.

     One comes to California with certain expectations. For example, I always expect to see a movie star. But I never do. (It's the same in New York City. But in all the times I've been to Manhattan, I've never seen a famous face -- except once I think I saw Jacqueline Kennedy outside my taxi window standing on a street corner, but I'm not even sure if it was her.)

     I was wrong about another expectation as well. A couple of posts ago I guessed that there weren't many retired bloggers from California -- assuming not too many people retire to California, simply because it's too expensive. I don't know if many retirees move to California, but there are plenty of retired people in California. And among the bloggers are The Fifty Factor and Retired Syd at Retirement: A Full Time Job.

I didn't see Naomi Watts
     You expect to see young, beautiful people in California who are hiking or biking or surfing. You also do see a few homeless people (there's a guy living outside a convenience store down the street) who have truly come to the end of the road. All this is part of the California experience. But I have to admit, I am having trouble getting used to the time change. Not the jet lag, which slowed me down for a couple of days. But the realization that, by the time you wake up in California, the day is already half over on the East Coast. I feel like I'm constantly behind, trying to catch up with the rest of the country.

     It's only lunchtime, and the financial markets have already had their day. They close at 1 p.m.! The White House has had its daily briefing. Whatever else that has occurred in Washington is already history.

     Last week I was going to watch the Super Bowl. I've watched the Super Bowl plenty of times. It's always on at night. So I went about my day, figuring I'd tune in when I got home in the evening. I got back to my room a little after 6 p.m. and turned on the TV, expecting to catch the game. The game was almost over! I was right. It did start at 6:30. But that was in Indianapolis. In California it started at 3:30, and it was practically over by 6:30.

I didn't see Daniel Craig
     I think if I lived in California I'd feel like I was missing    out on most of what's going on in America. But my daughter, who is much more at home in California, has a different point of view. She likes the idea that everything else in the country has already occurred by the time you're done at work. That way, you go home and you know nothing else is going to happen. So you can relax and enjoy the extra three hours you have in the day.

     "Maybe that's why people are so laid back out here in California," I ventured. "They all have an extra three hours at the end of the day to chill out."

     And I thought, maybe that's why people in California feel like they're a little different from those of us in the East, the South and the Midwest. Whatever we do in the rest of the country -- by the time it gets to California, it's history. It's done. It's over. Like the Super Bowl.

But I viewed some beautiful sunsets over the Pacific


Stephen Hayes said...

I was born in California and now live in Oregon; I've never lived far from the west coast. It's interesting what you say, and not something I've thought about, until now.

rosaria said...

Nawh, Californians think only about themselves. What ever happens somewhere else it doesn't affect them. We are the same in Oregon. We see all the storms you will see a few days after us, plus you'll have a big push from Canada too. We see the first storms, and the last part of the day. We're good with that arrangement.

Rubye Jack said...

I agree with Rosaria in that Californians think only of themselves. It was so when I lived there anyway.

#1Nana said...

It's not about one place being better than another, and we may well be self-involved, but the things that I'm concerned about are those that impact my daily life. That was true when I lived in California and true now in Oregon. I don't worry about increases to subway fare, for example, because we don't have public transportation. I care about local issues.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

I'm going to get out that way in May I think. My son and his family live in San Diego. I lived there once in the 1950s and did drive across the counry in a 1957 Chevrolet.

You forgot the folks in AK and HI. They are the last to see the sunset unless you count Americans living abroad. Dianne

Retired Syd said...

I loved this post! And not just because you mentioned me (it's true, in California, we're all we think about.) I've never thought about it in terms of what we're missing news-wise etc. That's interesting. But you are probably on to something. Who is even more relaxed than we in California? Hawaii, and they are 3 hours behind us.

I must say, that jet lag-wise, it's best to be coming from California. When we go to New York, we stay on California time--everything that we want to be doing happens between 8pm and 1am! Then in Hawaii we stay on California time--might as well be in bed after that sun goes down. Nothing else is going on.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I never thought of it like that before but you're right!!! We are always behind in California-- And having lived in NY, it seems magnified.
Have a great week, and THANKS for the shout out.

Douglas said...

There are advantages to the Pacific Time Zone. For instance, my son was disappointed when he and I moved to Florida from San Diego back in 1980 and he found he could not stay up to watch the World Series games. I liked being able to veg out with football starting at 10AM and still being able to go out to dinner without missing the end of the second game. Same with golf. I didn't do any investing when I lived in S.D. so I can't comment on having the markets already open for 3 hours when most people are waking up.

But the sunsets just can't be beat... unless you live in the Keys and get to watch an ocean sunrise AND sunset in the same day.

Old Dog Learning New Tricks said...

I can understand your feelings about how the time zone differences affect our lives when we move from one coast to the other. I moved from the East Coast to a western state and it drives me nuts when my friends and family call me in the morning and wake me up because they aren't thinking about the differences in the local time. But I do enjoy some aspects of it, one of which was the earlier Super Bowl. To each their own, I guess.

Friko said...

Now if you were to start swimming out to sea . . . . . . . .

Deb said...

Amazing how many Oregonians read your blog! I'm in SW Washington now, but my heart is in Oregon and I'll be an Oregonian forever.

I spent time on the east coast, and living in TX as well. Must say, they're all vastly different from one another. I find the east coast too fast paced, too frenzied and too populated for my taste. The West Coast is generally laid back, which I definitely prefer.

Part of it may be the time difference, and also perhaps because the heart of our country's politics and finance is centered in the East Coast. Food for thought.

I'd retire to CA if it were affordable. But the tax structure in Washington State is much friendlier to retirees, which is why there are a lot of them here.

Nance said...

You'll laugh. We flew into Wilmington, NC, last night and I got to see a movie star in the ladies room at the Wilmington Airport. No foolin'.