I don't know what caused this change. Earlier this summer I read some books by Tim Powers, an author native to southern California who writes some weird, but extremely engaging books about the area. And in the third book in a set of three, Earthquake Weather, the characters end up going on a trip to San Francisco. Seeing the city described from the point of view of a well-researched but clearly southern author was strange; for instance, he had obviously visited some obscure locations in The City such as the wave organ on the Marina and the old resevoir on top of Strawberry Hill, things which bring me back to my childhood but then I'm jarred by references to "the 280". In any case, his work on LA and Las Vegas is also good and makes me like the gritty aspects of both desert cities.
I've decided that although I'm a city girl, and one raised in SF at that, I don't feel as comfortable in SF as I used to. I lamented earlier this summer that it was too cold to wear shorts in June. I feel out of touch with adult culture, too un-hip, as if the city I was raised in, that my parents live in, is different from the one I'd inhabit if I moved back. Although I consider it more of a "proper city" than LA--like it has a usable downtown and bus system--I've gotten used to the low-density, spread out, car culture of this metro area.
And then there's the question of the physical environment, which brings me back to my earlier point. I'm a geologist, or at least a geologist-in-training. I've spent my summer driving around the western US, criss-crossing the Mojave on every available highway. Granted, when I'm working I'm usually in the middle of nowhere, but I'm gradually becoming a desert rat. I love the view of the San Gabriels from Pasadena on a clear day; it gives me a rush similar to the one I get when driving up 395 and seeing the Sierras rising sharply on my left. I've gotten used to living in dry, hot weather and not seeing a whole lot of foliage. A book written about the mountains around Vegas, a drive up the 15 passing through Baker--these are images that are quickly becoming as familiar to me as the redwood vacations of my youth. And god only knows I've begun to consider places like Bishop, CA jewels of civilization.
Am I losing my taste? My snobbery? I doubt in the next two years and possible more years after that I'll ever become a "real" Angeleno, but at the same time, I don't know if I'll ever return home. The housing prices are too high; the closest I might get in the next few years is graduate school at Berkeley. At the same time, I'm continuing to appreciate LA, less loving to hate but hating to love. And similarly, my tastes are expanding. I'm a real California fan now, having seen 4/5 of the counties and explored almost every geographical niche.
I guess this is a time to grow.