A teeny tiny glimpse of my life in Southern California…
Earthquakes. I was standing in my living room when the ground started shaking. It was my first earthquake and my knees kept shaking after the earthquake was over. For a brief moment I thought it was a helicopter doing a sweep (which sometimes made the apartment tremble). I still don’t hang anything on the wall over my bed and I don’t like being stuck in traffic under a bridge or in a tunnel.
Around the corner. I realized the phrase had taken on a new meaning for me when my brother came to visit and we noticed we had a different understanding of what “around the corner” meant. I learned new words related to space (jaywalking, tailgating, carpool lane) and I gained a new sense of personal space. Then, whenever I visited Europe, I felt like people kept bumping into each other.
Attitude. There were short phrases, fillers, the tone, details that made day to day interactions sound smooth and easy. I loved the confident, forward-looking attitude that seemed to permeate everything. I learned that if something seemed impossible, I was just looking at it from the wrong perspective. Now that was motivating! Sometimes it felt like in Europe, past rules dictated present behavior, something that made a whole lot of things appear impossible.
Movies and reality. One day, I was on my way home from school and the street was blocked off for the Ocean’s Eleven premiere. The sidewalk was still open so I kept walking and reached the crowd of screaming people while the actors got out of their limos. The most surreal part was the screaming. It felt like I was watching something on TV, except that I was in it. On another occasion, I was working as an usher at Royce Hall when Joe Pesci walked in. And after four years in Southern California, I graduated with Schwarzenegger’s signature on my diploma.
Uprooted yet at home. It felt like many people were from somewhere else, creating a sense of uprootedness and displacement I could relate to. I found a multicultural and multilingual environment where I felt immediately at home.
From Beverly Hills to Skid Row. There was the desert, the ocean and a city that seemed to have grown in surface, not in height. The streets were clean, probably thanks to signs threatening a 1000 dollar littering fine (which I think should be instated in Europe!). It was a place of openness, choice and possibilities but also of gated communities, isolation, gangs, poverty and an underlying sense of anxiety.