I grew up in Minnesota, went to school in Boston and now live in Los Angeles.
To say I’ve had dramatic changes of scenery would be an understatement.
I went from the friendliest place in the US to the home of the boisterous sports fans and ended in the land of make believe.
Each location has its vices and virtues, but the real struggle is making sense of the varied experiences from all of my “homes.”
There are so many strange things you don’t think twice about, then realize, oh yeah… not everyone deals with this.
Here are some of mine:
1. Having a confusing mix of vernacular.
You realize no one talks like you anymore. You have your own hybrid accent that makes no sense. I used to have an extremely thick Minnesotan accent, but it faded slightly after I went to school in Boston.
I picked up some of the slang terms from Boston, “wicked” being the biggest one. Now, after being in Southern California for a couple years, I even throw in “hella” on occasion.
2. Not really being “from” anywhere.
One of the first things people ask you to get to know you is, “Where are you from?” You always pause for a second because you don’t know what to say.
Technically, yes, I grew up in Minnesota, but I spent some of my favorite years in Boston and I will likely live in Los Angeles for the next several years.
My identity is comprised of so many little tidbits from experiences at all locations, and I can’t call one place home.
3. Adapting extremely quickly to the better weather.
Just because you have endured the cold doesn’t mean you’re good at it or enjoyed it.
Even after 18 years in the unforgiving tundra of Minnesota, my 23-year-old body has completely forgotten what the definition of “cold” is.
In Los Angeles, 60 degrees is pretty cold. I don’t remember what it’s like to pick a parking spot based on how long you can survive the elements.
4. Sports arguments.
You can be indifferent to sports, but you should have at least one team you root for. When you reside in multiple places, you get sucked into different sports cultures.
I’m a Packers fan and a Patriots fan. When I have to explain myself (because that’s a thing), people are incredulous.
No, I won’t be converting to the Chargers anytime soon and yes, I do still hate all the football teams from Northern California. (Who doesn’t loathe the Raiders?)
5. Assimilating into a new culture.
You don’t think the United States is that diverse of a nation until you leave home for an extended period for the first time.
In Minnesota, you could expect a friendly conversation at the DMV (I literally only passed my driving test because I sucked up to the instructor and asked her about her kids.)
In Boston, on our college campus, you have to ignore every person you see. That was the norm. In Los Angeles?
You might think you’re best friends with that person from the grocery store, but he or she just want to send you their reel and head shots.
Though it isn’t always official, with each state comes an entirely new set of driving rules. I would never drive in Boston. They have a subway called the “T” and Massholes are a real thing.
Driving in Minnesota is no walk in the park either. Black ice, hidden ice, ice sheets, slushy snow and deep snow are all very real things that could send you careening into a ditch.
By far, however, driving in Los Angeles is the absolute worst. The people who forgot everything they learned in Driver's Ed all decided to come here and use their cell phones.
Oh yeah, and you can’t escape. You have to drive; my Buick is my second home.
7. Your friends are everywhere.
As if the initial spread after high school wasn’t enough, you dug your roots into another city and abruptly tore them out.
Many of my friends are still on the east coast, many are still in Minnesota, many of them are at totally different locations.
Sure, I made friends in Los Angeles (even though it’s shockingly difficult), but all the friends I spent several years fostering relationships with are thousands of miles away from me. Plane tickets across the country aren’t cheap!
Vegas trips are our form of reunions.
8. You have no idea where you’ll eventually “settle down.”
You have a mental pros and cons list about each location in your head, and it isn’t clear which of them is the winner.
There are things you miss about each “home,” but they are all associated with different times in your life.
No matter which place you choose, you’re leaving some things you love behind.
9. You have to pick an ocean.
People might ask you which ocean you prefer, if you had to choose. It’s a dilemma because they’re so different.
The Northeast Atlantic is permanently freezing, while the Southwest Pacific has moments where you can actually attempt to swim.
Granted, no one really wants to swim at Venice Beach, but the enormous coast of California leaves you with so many options.
As much as I love New England, I gotta go with the Pacific.
10. “Swinging by” to “catch” events on the opposite coast isn’t a thing.
If you want to go visit your other habitat, it’s a long process that requires actual planning, requesting days off of work and dropping fat stacks to find a flight and place to stay.
Not to mention all the food and beverages you’ll inevitably buy when you travel back. Three-day weekends become a sinkhole for money to the point that you’re perpetually broke.
11. Discovering the new local gems.
Good spots are hard to find. You have to read a lot of Yelp reviews, taken a lot of risks, experienced a lot of letdowns and changed your expectations.
I know I’m not going to find any good "chowdah" out here in California, but I also know I’m not going to find any good fish tacos out in Boston.