The psychological stages of moving to California from the midwest

By  | February 19, 2015 |  Comments | Filed under: Feels

I touched down in Oz exactly one month ago and I’d be lying if I said this magical transition from a grumpy midwesterner to smug Californian wasn’t fraught with a few tears. Sure, some are tears of joy and other are tears of seeing people on Facebook eating Lou Malnati’s.

As a service to exactly no one, here are the psychological stages of moving to California from the midwest:

1. Terror. Before the move, you are paralyzed at the idea of moving your permanent fat suit from Chicago to L.A. If the spectrum of human beauty begins with Toxic-era Britney Spears and ends with Newt Gingrich, that puts me in lady M&M territory. I am not hot enough to live in a place populated only by eleven foot models and Leonardo DiCaprio. Maybe I can find work as pond scum in the infinity pools of the Calabasas. Minor sub feeling: blip of excitement that I might see Biebs.

2. Grief – mainly on moving day. I wasn’t even that in love with my house in Chicago. I was trying to sell it anyway when we found out we were moving to California. Sure, it was “okay” and as for Chicago, well, it was better than the bible belt town I escaped the day I got out of school. Chicago was also covered in snow nine months a year and sometimes you don’t know if you’ve been knifed in the face or if you’re just leaning into a cold wind. Those grudges magically disappeared on moving day, though. Suburban Chicago was suddenly THE MECCA OF ALL – flannel PJs, down home folks, good free schools and Weiner Circle (where I hadn’t been in six years). I cried for twelve hours straight on moving day and my husband was so shook up he wrecked our car. How could we be leaving this homiest of all homes? And for what? Stupid sunshine?!? Buy a Happy Lamp and call it a day, I wailed. We packed the truck anyway.

3. Mirth. Wait, when I got on this plane you could chill beer in your lawn. Four hours later I get off the plane and ask what the hell is this yellow light streaming from the sky and these amazing vegan menu items at every stop? I’m sweating like a week old Easter egg and people are in Uggs because it’s SEVENTY JEFFING DEGREES. It’s like Elsa brought back summer or something. There are no 28-pound coats pulling me into a snow drift and I can eat at literally any restaurant I want. When the kids have to pee, they just go and I don’t have to yell at them that they should have thought about that before I wrapped each of their body parts in 12 layers of thermal fabric until they were barricaded into their suits like astronauts. THERE ARE TREES THAT GROW AVOCADOS. I didn’t even know avocados grew on trees. Or that they are supposed to be green. I thought they were shat from ATM machines.

4. Frustration. You sober up from the cocktail of sun + food that won’t kill you on about day five. That’s when you make your first mistake of entering the freeway at 4:30 PM and debate killing yourself in traffic for the next three hours. L.A. living is real life too, not a vacation. You’ll know this when you try to get a hair cut and realize every single thing runs on a referral system. You don’t get a table or into a school without dropping a few names. I just tell people I’m Michael Jordan now if I want to get an oil change this month.

What’s maybe the most jarring about this system is everyone’s exuberance to refer you. You can’t have a conversation in L.A. without being sent to do business somewhere. I have witnessed entire conversations that are just people yelling names at each other. I’ve got one for you. OPRAH WINFREY. Just kidding. She moved to L.A. too.

5. Superiority. I’m just going to say this and you aren’t going to like it, but sometimes, when I’m talking to someone who has lived in California for too long, I feel like Trinity from the Matrix. I feel so fast and diabolical, it’s like my intelligence cuts through time. I’m not a giant brain. I sat at a stop sign waiting for it to turn green once. It’s just that the people of California are so innocent. They don’t have calculated plans. They don’t have long cons. They don’t know how to tie their shoes because they wear lots of FiveFingers. One could make a very lucrative career as a snake oil salesman in Studio City. Just saying.

6. Ignorant bliss. The tranquility that seemed like crack the day you got here is taken for granted by week two. The simplicity seeps into your brain and you forget you ever had complicated ideas or a ski mask to get the mail. Fecebook tells me Chicago is buried under 20 inches of snow in six-degree weather right now, but I’m in my tank top in front of my pool whining stuff like, “ughhh, I would drive to the beach for sunset cocktails, but then I’ll have sand in my shoes!”

7. Acceptance. You realize the moms just look like moms here, too. Sure, there are Kardashians out tooling around in their k-mobiles, but they pretty much stick with their own kind. It’s not like supermodels are traipsing the cat litter aisle at Target with the rest of us. It’s just a little sunnier here and you’ll pay twice as much for milk. Otherwise, California is the same good ole USA I’ve always known – loud, white people on cell phones.

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