My parents and sister all live in southern California, which is an anomaly, because we are all originally from Massachusetts. That they all ended up in California was sort of an accident. I was the first to migrate to the west coast, and I first lived in Santa Barbara, which is gorgeous and expensive. After a year, the internet imploded and 9/11 happened. So I grudgingly moved to the Los Angeles area where the wages were higher and the rent was cheaper. My sister soon moved to LA, then my parents came a couple years after that.
Then I left and moved to Oregon, of course. And it is fairly certain none of my family will follow me up here, because it’s cold and the winter is gray and dreary. I’d like to tell them to suck it up, because everything ELSE about Oregon is fantastic.
But you see, Dave and I just got back from southern California. And they have this thing there called SUN. They have this other thing called WARMTH. When we arrived, the temperature was in the mid eighties. I consider myself a hardened Oregon resident, with no need for such frippery.
My sister and I took Dave out for his inaugural visit to In-n-Out. It was located between two roaring freeways, two gas stations, and next to a six lane surface artery. We ordered through the drive through. We sat outside at one of the concrete dining tables, with their fixed red plastic umbrellas. I sucked down a lemonade and a Double Double with grilled onions. The sun was strong and baked one side of my face.
We watched the endless stream of cars piling into the two drive through lanes, and listened to the freeways screaming overhead. I commented to Dave how we were in a grand temple of car culture. I watched parades of new $60,000 cars go by, all driven by teenagers.
We picked at the last of our cold french fries and I had a dawning realization. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so content. Even with all the traffic and the noise, I was also looking at swaying palm trees, feeling a warm breeze and getting a sun burn. And I had a belly full of In-n-Out. I was completely done with my food, and I was slurping on the melted ice in my cup. But I could have stayed in that parking lot all day, soaking in that quintessential California experience.
It was warm and sunny every day. It didn’t get boring. I would describe my mood during the trip as “pleasant.” As much as I’d like to think I’m a tough guy (because I am), I think they are onto something with that sunshine crap.
I guess I’ll go get one of those light box things. I’ve written about the happy lights before, and I was trying to resist. I’m going to bite the bullet and get one. The sun makes a difference.
Although, I don’t get cheeseburgers very often. My happy mood could have been from the Double Double. Maybe I’ll start a new mental health fad called “Sunlight and Cheeseburger Therapy.”