…it�s more like a nation of mind. No kidding there. Californians are (and by Californians, I mean native Californians, mostly, though some folks who have been here a long time exhibit similar tendencies) culturally not like the rest of Americans. That�s not to say that all the other Americans are exactly alike, but it is to say that they are exactly not like Californians…or at least Southern Californians, which are the only ones I know so far.
I moved here to San Diego almost exactly 4 months ago from Ohio. Columbus, Ohio, to be precise. A nice city, the largest in Ohio (really, it is), the capitol, and often a test-market city for all sorts of products because, well, Columbus is just so darn normal. San Diego is very different, physically, than Columbus (ocean, mountains, hills, low humidity, and desert vegetation�not to mention the temperatures and lack of serious seasonal changes) so I expected that it would take some getting used to for visceral reasons. I thought that it would take a couple of months. It�s taking longer�just when I think I�m starting to feel at home, something happens to make sure I don�t.
Sometimes it�s been things like the red tide that makes the ocean fluoresce when waves break (especially visible at night), or waking up on a Sunday morning to an orange sky and ash falling like snow from the fires burning in the city. But sometimes it�s been something very different�sometimes it�s been a Californian reminding me that I am someone to be pitied because, as luck would have it, I wasn�t born here.
My in-laws are great at that. They don�t mean to be harsh, and I think they�re really wonderful (I really lucked out in the in-law department�no kidding), but sometimes I just want to scream, �You�re not any better than the rest of us, so just get off than damn high Californian horse and get over it!� But that wouldn�t do any good, of course–they simply wouldn�t understand. I�m absolutely sure they don�t see it.
See, if a Californian is in a foreign country and is asked, �Where are you from?� I bet 9 out of 10 would answer �California.� I bet 9 out of 10 Ohioans (or Georgians or Coloradoans or Iowans, etc.) would say �America.� Kind of like the Bretons in France�they may be a part of France, but they�re Breton first, and French second.
Californians love to tell you how the state has the fifth largest GDP in the world (tied with France in 2001), or that the produce is better here than anywhere else in the world, or that you can surf some of the best beaches and less than 2 hours later by car be snow skiing. When you bring up things like the fact that the median price for a home in San Diego County is over $400K they say that�s just because all these non-Californians have moved in and driven the housing prices up. The lousy traffic is because of all the non-Californians too (because there are so many of them and they don�t know how to drive).
In fact, just about everything negative is directly related to non-Californians, at least in Californian eyes.
So, of course, being a non-Californian (by birth�I am legally Californian now), I take some of these comments a bit personally. Who wouldn�t when you hear the comments all the time�from the grocery baggers to your Californian spouse? Yes, yes, I know that California has fabulous vegetation and that the skiing on the California side of Tahoe is supposed to be wonderful, but I love the Spanish Moss of Savannah and the snow in Utah is pretty spectacular.
But not as good as the stuff in California…even Walt Disney World is but a cheap knock-off of Disneyland.
Actually, in retrospect, I�m wrong�it�s not that Californians aren�t like typical Americans, it�s that they are like typical Americans to the nth degree! And they�re that way to other Americans!
What do foreigners complain about when they complain about Americans? Arrogance, the spouting of Americans that our country is better at everything; that the only things wrong with America aren�t the fault of Americans (but always some �other�). Sure, it�s a great country, but it�s not perfect (have you noticed our president, for example, and our healthcare system), but most Americans will defend the US to any non-American like it�s a practically perfect nation and certainly better than theirs at the very least. That�s exactly what Californians do.
There is a lot of good in California, and the people are actually very nice (when they�re not talking about how great California is). But if I even drink the Kool-Aid and start sounding like a native, please bitch-slap me back into a normal state of mind.