The Continuing Saga of a Transplanted SoCal Girl to Staten Island, New York.
I never thought of myself as a SoCal girl even though I lived there most of my life. I too assumed, like most people, that SoCal girls are typically blonde, look great in a bikini and spend endless hours on the beach soaking up SoCal’s golden rays. So, it stands to reason that I never identified with being a SoCal gal because I’m definitely not blonde and at that place and time when I looked great in a bikini, I was way too shy and oh so modest, to even think about donning one comfortably.
A confluence of events occurred and I discovered that I’ve been a SoCal girl all along. And like a whole lot of things that happen in people’s lives, I didn’t discover that reality until after I was no longer a SoCal gal. The point is, I was a SoCal girl until about a week ago. The reason I discovered my true identity is because of where I am, now, and the direct impact of being in this very un-SoCal environment has had on my lifestyle and identity.
I have traveled a bit here and there over the years. I have even visited the location of my new residence several times in the recent past. But most would admit that the transient experience of traveling and visiting is very different from living in a place day in and day out. So, my profound change and my ultimate acceptance of being of being a SoCal began within a few hours of my arrival at my new city of residence.
I never really appreciated many of the amenities that were afforded me simply because I lived in SoCal. Certain things in the new place were a startling contrast to SoCal such as the weather. SoCal residents and visitors alike are spoiled by the weather that is typically moderately warm to hot and an almost always dry, non-humid climate except for that occasional “rain,” that is really just a drizzle that moistens the streets and freeways just enough to cause hundreds of fender benders. Rain in SoCal is a rare phenomenon and what is considered rain in every other place in most of the US is an annoying, unnatural occurrence in SoCal. SoCal is notorious for its endless traffic jams on sunny days become hellish nightmares on those rare drizzle days. God forbid a light snow should ever occur in SoCal due to global warming” half the population would suddenly disappear. Jammed packed freeways and claustrophobic exhaust are just two of the things that SoCal residents accept in their lifestyles in exchange for their guaranteed killer weather.
The weather in my new city is so obviously not SoCal. The first three days I lived here it rained. I mean real rain. The skies were dark and gloomy, just like they had been in SoCal a zillion times before, but I had no fear of an impending storm because in SoCal grey skies translate into June gloom. No rain, no thunder, no lightening, just overcast skies. In SoCal, it’s not even muggy!
But here in Staten Island if the sky is slightly grey and there’s a hint of rumble in the heavens you can bet that heavens will let forth with an incredible amount of water. The rain that flooded the streets of this island just a short week ago was more rain that had fallen in SoCal in all of the years I had lived there collectively.
My first real indication that I was in a way different place was based on the texture of personal interaction between the residents of Staten Island. Truthfully, every person that I encountered my first few days were helpful to a fault.
When I first arrived in Staten Island after crossing the bridge from New Jersey, it was obvious that I was hopelessly lost. I stopped to ask a crew of street workers for directions; I can’t fathom maps and GPS defies every part of my being and the fine art of driving in Staten Island, an issue to be covered later, required every bit of attention that I could muster. The good news is, I met an extremely helpful man, the crew supervisor, who jumped into his and truck and guided me to my location for some fifteen minutes. So, this act of kindness is a milestone because in SoCal, I’ve never had anyone, not even one of those guys/gals in blue, to personally escort me to my destination. So, from all appearances, Staten Island residents on the whole are more friendly and helpful than all of the residents combined in SoCal.
Needless to say, this SoCal gal is in deep culture shock. Perhaps time will begin to heal my incredible identity crisis as is now exists? Or perhaps I will always be a transplanted SoCal gal in search of common experiences that will link my two very different worlds.