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.

On the freeway

On the freeway

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.

Palm Canyon

Palm Canyon

Contrasts

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.

Aldrich Park, UC Irvine

Aldrich Park, UC Irvine

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.