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Golden State dreams

“Leaving California would be a failure for me. I got the degree so I could stay here.”

C’mon, California - a steady steam of garbage lined the 94 on Monday morning.
C’mon, California - a steady steam of garbage lined the 94 on Monday morning.

Winding my way up La Mesa’s Mount Nebo on a Sunday morning, I wound up on the Summit Drive cul-de-sac. All but one of the houses sported a tasteful Biden/Harris 2020 sign in the front yard. (A kitschy “I’m ridin with Biden” banner showed up on the slopes below.) A dusty Dodge Charger loitered in the driveway of the single signless domicile.

I was tickled by the thought of a lone Republican holdout — not because I’m such a fan of Republicans, but because I like the idea of people who are politically distant still living in close proximity. I think this was, at one point, an American ideal (you, know, before Trump became a referendum on whether longtime friendships could continue). Even if you thought the other guy’s candidate was going to take the country right into the toilet, inviting him to the cul-de-sac cookout wasn’t fraternizing with the enemy. It was being neighborly: a celebration of common ground, a shared belief in democracy and the old American motto of E pluribus unum. Later on, I spotted a TRUMP: NO MORE BULLSHIT flag on another La Mesa hilltop, and a Qanon t-shirt on a shopper at Walmart in Grossmont Center.

A couple of weeks ago, The Wife got invited to a grievance meeting. Several families we knew had decided to leave California, and wanted to present their reasons for doing so. Money was one; people didn’t see a future for their kids here, and didn’t want to watch them move away. Kids figured into most of the other reasons as well. They were red folks in a blue state, and found that, like the gummed-up Humming-fish in The Lorax, the environment had become unlivable. I am sad to see them go, both because I’ll miss them and because of those photos of old SCOTUS pals Scalia and RBG that floated around on the internet after the latter’s death. Iron sharpens iron, but the right sort of friction can soften a steely heart. Also because they have me wondering.

My oldest just graduated from Berkeley with a degree in mathematics. He thought the prestige of the school and the difficulty of the degree would interest employers. So far, he has found otherwise. I suggested a job in Kansas City, where he has family. “It would mean recalibrating my expectations to reality,” he replied. “Leaving California would be a failure for me. I got the degree so I could stay here.” I started arguing for Kansas City. I started to like what I was hearing. I mean, I don’t surf, fire is looking to become an official season, and the internet has made everywhere local.

My original proposal for this column was Golden Dust instead of Golden Dreams. Sometimes, the dust people rushed here to find was gold. But mostly, it was dust, a desert that had to be watered before we could start pretending it was paradise.

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C’mon, California - a steady steam of garbage lined the 94 on Monday morning.
C’mon, California - a steady steam of garbage lined the 94 on Monday morning.

Winding my way up La Mesa’s Mount Nebo on a Sunday morning, I wound up on the Summit Drive cul-de-sac. All but one of the houses sported a tasteful Biden/Harris 2020 sign in the front yard. (A kitschy “I’m ridin with Biden” banner showed up on the slopes below.) A dusty Dodge Charger loitered in the driveway of the single signless domicile.

I was tickled by the thought of a lone Republican holdout — not because I’m such a fan of Republicans, but because I like the idea of people who are politically distant still living in close proximity. I think this was, at one point, an American ideal (you, know, before Trump became a referendum on whether longtime friendships could continue). Even if you thought the other guy’s candidate was going to take the country right into the toilet, inviting him to the cul-de-sac cookout wasn’t fraternizing with the enemy. It was being neighborly: a celebration of common ground, a shared belief in democracy and the old American motto of E pluribus unum. Later on, I spotted a TRUMP: NO MORE BULLSHIT flag on another La Mesa hilltop, and a Qanon t-shirt on a shopper at Walmart in Grossmont Center.

A couple of weeks ago, The Wife got invited to a grievance meeting. Several families we knew had decided to leave California, and wanted to present their reasons for doing so. Money was one; people didn’t see a future for their kids here, and didn’t want to watch them move away. Kids figured into most of the other reasons as well. They were red folks in a blue state, and found that, like the gummed-up Humming-fish in The Lorax, the environment had become unlivable. I am sad to see them go, both because I’ll miss them and because of those photos of old SCOTUS pals Scalia and RBG that floated around on the internet after the latter’s death. Iron sharpens iron, but the right sort of friction can soften a steely heart. Also because they have me wondering.

My oldest just graduated from Berkeley with a degree in mathematics. He thought the prestige of the school and the difficulty of the degree would interest employers. So far, he has found otherwise. I suggested a job in Kansas City, where he has family. “It would mean recalibrating my expectations to reality,” he replied. “Leaving California would be a failure for me. I got the degree so I could stay here.” I started arguing for Kansas City. I started to like what I was hearing. I mean, I don’t surf, fire is looking to become an official season, and the internet has made everywhere local.

My original proposal for this column was Golden Dust instead of Golden Dreams. Sometimes, the dust people rushed here to find was gold. But mostly, it was dust, a desert that had to be watered before we could start pretending it was paradise.

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Well written snapshot of California and the USA.

Oct. 7, 2020

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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