The rain has stopped here in the idyllic Sierra foothills. This is the first rain of the rainy season, nearly two months late. In California if it don’t rain during the winter then it just don’t rain at all because it never rains in the Summer. Down in LA, rain is irrelevant or worse, a damn nuisance because it just floods the gutters and runs into the ocean after washing the oil residue off the roads and causing chaos on the freeways. The water is all imported from elsewhere. It’s a convenient arrangement.
In the hinterlands of Northern California its different. The rivers run all year round and until recently nobody metered water service. It was all you can use for a flat monthly fee. Folks up here are resentful of Southern California who, they think, want to steal their water. (One of the three SoCal aqueducts takes water from the north to the south). More than anything else, water divides California. Periodically proposals surface to divide California into two more homogenous states but they always founder. Northerners want to cut all ties to the south and stop sending precious water south but unfortunately for them Southerners have more population. There are so many more Southerners that a single California state will always provide water to the south no matter what kind of fuss the north puts up.
Culturally, the north feels superior with San Francisco as their prime argument. San Francisco is the crown jewel of California culture and a world class tourist mecca. Southern California has beaches and amusement parks but despite having better culture and multiple centers of culture isn’t a real cultural focus. Not that the southerners care. SoCal is liveable, diverse and culture-rich if you can avoid rush hour traffic. NoCal is insular and isolated once you leave the city by the bay. In Southern California, cities have no real meaning. You can drive 100 miles without seeing an open space and everybody listens to LA radio and watches LA TV. In Northern California, the SF influence doesn’t reach 50 miles. I don’t know why. Either SF isn’t interested in the hicks from the hinterlands or the hicks can’t take the smug superiority of SF.
When I moved from the south to the north, it was culture shock for me. Sacramento was always just a far away place where the legislature gathered to plot against the electorate. Turns out it’s better than that. There is some culture here and no rush hour but you can still go the SF for the day. Sacramento is always your number two choice.
Not sure the point of these musings today. The rest of the country is probably fed up with California but after 40 years in the golden state I still can’t forget being drawn here from my earliest childhood fantasies. My grandmother subscribed to Sunset back in the 50’s (and it wasn’t easy to do when you live in Missouri). She adopted California when my grandfather worked in a California factory during WWII. I’d read the magazine and dream about the exotic California lifestyle. There wasn’t a chance that I’d end up anywhere else.
By now it seems that California has reached the end of its run and killed the California dream. California may always have been an illusion but 40 years ago, reality didn’t bite so bad. I don’t know that I will ever pull up stakes and relocate to a less-taxing environment but I am over my love-affair with California. It’s full of memories and my sons call it home. It may be time to move on but it is hard. After 40 years making my bed in California, I may just have to spend the rest of my life lying in it.