Our itinerary required us to fly into the southern half of the Los Angeles basin (Orange County) and transverse then north (Ventura County) via automobile. If you ever want your awareness to focus on the reality of funerals, try driving on Southern California freeways. They will make a Believer out of you.
From the moment you step off the plane to when you wrestle that carry-on into the overhead compartment at departure, the pace of the So Cal’s lifestyle is “hectic” to put it mildly. Public transportation is a completely off the radar of Southern Californians here in this part of the world where the automobile is King. Nancy had reserved a full size rental car; I opted instead for a smaller vehicle feeling that being light and fleet-of-foot would give us a greater edge toward our survivability.
In general I would say that southern Californians view their highway system as one large reality-based video game. The goal is to get from point A to point B in as little time as possible. When the freeways are not choked to the point of being long narrow parking lots, they are drag strips. I concede that I can somewhat understand the “need for speed” as traveling on the side streets is a major trial of one’s patience. The traffic lights are excruciatingly long in cycling. More than once I pondered the economy of turning off my engine at the stop lights. The Southern Californians have adapted, however - I saw people glibly thumbing” away on their i-phones while stopped in traffic.
But the freeway is another matter entirely. Here one indulges the need to shrug off the bonds of traffic and hurtle heedlessly into the horizon as fast as humanly possible. My goal was simpler… to attempt to maintain sufficient distance from the other four-wheeled objects while sustaining a decent velocity. But then again I was always a wimp in any sort of video game. Dying was annoying even when I could hit the “replay level” button.
And sure enough, there were wrecks… though far fewer than I had expected. Still the acts of
The frenetic mentality was not limited to the roadways. At our motel a guy riding down in the elevator with us decided that the doors were taking excessively long open as we reached our floor – he “knocked” on the stainless steel elevator doors, I guess thinking somehow they would get the hint and open more quickly. Busy guy and precious nano-seconds were being wasted!
One of my blogging buddies, Gutsy Writer, is writing a book about their family abandoning the fast pace of Southern California and moving to Belize. As she explains on her blog: “To Live a simple life. Escape gridlocked freeways and the Orange County, California rat race. Teach our kids gratitude instead of entitlement.”
We all know it’s there, yet I think one cannot truly appreciate the full scope of the societal and emotional desert which is Southern California until one temporarily immerses themselves into it.
My step-son, now living in Orange County (where there are no longer any orange orchards, by the way… NONE) was raised in the beautiful green of the Pacific Northwest. I asked Jesse one day if he ever missed the cool clean air, the forests, and the greenness of his home state. “No, I pretty much stay inside most of the time”, he replied, then returned to checking his i-phone.
But now my step-son is married and with lovely a new bride. And I can’t help but wonder, if children result from this union, if perhaps Oregon will regain some sense of allure to the young parents. I can only hope.