What do I miss the most about California? I miss weather (no humidity!), the beaches, the laid-back atmosphere, the incredible Mexican food. I miss wearing Rainbows at any time of the year and traveling to national parks on a whim. Until I left for college, I never understood how much I appreciated my home state.
Going to college on the East Coast has its draws, don’t get me wrong. From actual, beautiful seasons to a Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner, it feels like heaven to many. The fast-paced way of life will keep anyone on their toes. You can’t dispute the amazing, diverse food from pizza to delicious Indian delicacies. My freshman year, however, I truly came to understand how much I identify with the Golden State.
Leaving California brought so much into perspective for me. I found myself freezing cold on a January day last year, bundled from head to toe in thick layers and scarves, shivering nonetheless. I daydreamed consistently about the temperate 65 degrees it was back home, the jeans, flip flops and light sweater I would’ve worn. How could I have ever complained about the cold?
Besides that, anyone who has traveled around the country understands the vast difference in culture between the East and West Coast. I missed the laid back, easy-going lifestyle of California compared to the incredibly fast paced and brisk East Coast culture. California’s friendly people and mindset of taking time to smell the flowers drastically differed from East Coasters speaking a mile a minute and walking even faster.
These two ways of life, one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast began to make up who I was (could I like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks?). I didn’t know how I felt about it. At school, when the temperature emerged from the low 30’s into the high 40’s, I felt ecstatic. It was practically summer, I told myself! This concept was insane, because at home 65 degrees meant I was freezing, like pull-out-your-winter-jacket kind of cold. I slowly found myself walking faster, talking less to people in passing and making sure that everything I needed to do was done at the new East Coast-fast pace.
At this point I realized how much California meant to me. I didn’t want to lose that by enjoying life on the East Coast too much. I found myself worrying about going back to California. Fall on the East Coast is absolutely incredible. How did I survive in California without seeing beautiful, vibrant colors everywhere?
As the months went on, I came to understand that I didn’t have to choose between these two lifestyles. They could simply coexist. The realization of how much I love and identify with California was huge, but realizing that I could love California and love my life on the East Coast was even bigger. When I talked to my parents about my life on the East Coast over winter break, I referred to it as home. That’s when I realized that I was lucky enough to have two homes, two places that I truly love.
I have no idea who I would be without my love for my state. I also don’t know who I would be without my appreciation for these two drastically different styles of life. I’ve learned to deal with all kinds of weather and people through living in two different places, from relaxed California surfer types (yes, the stereotype does exist) to high-strung business officials. At the end of the day, that makes me, me.