Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Growing up in California

At age four in 1952 my mother, grandmother and I took a train from our home in Seattle to San Diego. Up until that time my life outside had been mostly cold, snowy or rainy depending on the time of year. I missed my cousin Billy who was 5 years older than I and my Aunt and Uncle and my Grandmother and Grandfather who also had lived on the same 2 1/2 acres of Apple trees, Cherry trees, raspberries and blackberries with us. We all had separate homes but 2 1/2 acres is a lot of land for a 4 year old to have fun in.

After about 2 days of our train ride my father met us in San Diego. He had rented us a house in Vista. There I started Kindergarten. Within 6 months we moved to El Cajon to another house where we had apricot trees and an organic garden filled with tomatoes and other vegetables. My father even then was into organic foods and had been a vegetarian since 1934 and had studied with Paul Bragg just like Jack Lalane who had an exercise show on TV in the 1950's and 1960's. My mother and I bought glamor stretchers and worked out every day with Jack Lalane on TV during the week from the time I was 8 to 12 years old.

The biggest difference then between Seattle and San Diego was the weather. The other thing I noticed was that marriages didn't seem to last as long in southern California as they did in Seattle at that time either. I found I liked the sunshine and all the newfound freedom I found in San Diego but life didn't seem to have as solid a set of rules there as Seattle. In Seattle I knew where I stood more. Now, I call this difference the Controlled Chaos of Southern California. The best way I can explain it is that almost anything goes in Southern California because people are very tolerant of new ideas. They will try almost anything once but if it is not to their liking they will drop it just as fast.

I guess that is what I most like about California. There is a kind of freedom here that I have found nowhere else on earth. It's easy to make friends but also just as easy to lose them because there is a whole lot that is so experimental that it is temporary. So if one is from another part of the world (or even another state) it is very important to scrutinize who you are making friends with as many acquaintances don't go anywhere even if people appear to be nice.

California is in the end just like everywhere else: If you have one or two good friends that you can trust you should call yourself lucky. Those friendships can last a lifetime even in California if you are wise.

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