Being born and raised on the West Coast, now living in the East Coast has made me appreciate a number of things on both coasts. Yet amongst this expansiveness of what I can call home, there are some notable differences of these two coasts besides the few 3,000 miles that separates them.
I just visited home (near Los Angeles, CA) and realized how blatant the differences that exist between this and its East Coast counterpart. The first thing that shocked me was the shallowness of LA.
[Disclaimer: Now, I know this may offend a number of my friends from back home. I can tell you "It's not you, it's them" but I know, you know, that there lies some truth behind my completely biased generalization of a good portion of the LA community. Nonetheless, if this blog bugs you so much, you are always able to just stop reading this entry. So, as I was saying...]
People care much about their appearance here, and I know that's true for any place really, including the East Coast but there is a very 'Hollywood' nature that lies even in the clothes. Lots of the "style" here are just carbon-copies of celebrity/reality start outfits. And, even the style associated with stepping outside the box, has a particular look that is predictable. You know, the "I'm-so-artsie-looks-like-Anthropologie-or-Urban-Outfitters-but-can't-really-afford-that-shit-so-here-is-something-cheaper-but-still-looks-really-really-cool" types. I know you know who I'm talking about, c'mon admit it. What looks like creativity, really is a lack of genuine-ity.
In New York, by contrast, creativity effuse everywhere and anywhere while at the same time this openness to the different. Judgment isn't the initial reaction. I don't know if it's just desensitization to the crazy, but I want to believe it is this openess of individuality that is, if not accepted, at least acknowledged.
For example, what I could wear in New York to be considered 'different' would be considered 'foolish' or 'stupid' in LA. There lies a depth that may not always come in a cute bow but in its most unrefined form, honest.
Since I was young visiting my cousins in New York, I always yearned to live one day in The City. I, of course, in my very naive stature did not realize that to live in New York City requires money and tons of it. So, although I may not have been able to attend many ballet performances at the MET or eat every night at a different restaurant, I did get to learn the nature of the people and memorize subway maps like the back of my hand.
The one thing I always appreciated about New York was its authenticity. People mention that, if you can live in New York City, you can live every where. This is entirely true. There is this roughness, fast-pace attitude that when you leave that door in the morning to enter the streets of NYC, you are on. You and your agenda, out there in the city. Sometimes, your ass gets kicked. Sometimes, it doesn't.
I realize that this is a lot coming from only a year living in New York but I've always felt it was part of me even before my actual move. I felt as if NYC was my lost family, like the adopted child that got to meet his biological parents for the first time. I felt at home, and the people (with all of its roughness) was one of the most honest experiences I've felt for a very, very long time.
In the end, my opinion is this: the main contributing reason why these worlds are so different is because of the geography of the cities. West Coast, particularly LA or San Diego, have a very generous amount of space. Driving is vital to your existence and productivity, which sometimes deters you from the communal activity of walking in the streets doing errands that the East Coast peeps experience.
The contrast with the East Coast is that it is so congested with people in such a finite space. For example Manhattan and its surrounding burroughts have about milions and millions of inhabitants (not counting the other milion that visit and tour throughout the year) and because of it, are pushed to be highly competitive peope with one another. They know that if they let their gaurd for even a second, there will be another person in line to snatch it from them. In places like San Diego, you know that the world is competitive. But you also don't get to see it as often unless you are in the right circles. You don't necessarily see the opportunities in front of you taken away, mainly because how can you see it when your world is often viewed from a car or internet media. In New York, your world is right outside your window. You can hear it, working day and night. You know, that when you are not working, someone else is.
The weather has to do a little something about it, too. Weather that is always 75 degrees, with no snow brings about very content people. Although, I find that contentment can sometimes develop into complacency. In the East Coast, when you know that by November, you will not have the same mobility or access to certain things, you work like ants when the weather is good and then, brace yourself when it's winter. But unlike bears, they don't hibernate. People here still push and shove (much of the snow) but also continue on with their day to day tasks despite the unruling weather.
I didn't realize that I had a lot to say about this topic. Nevertheless, I hope someone found my blabble entertaining. It was for me, writing it. Also, my viewpoint is not limited to just Los Angeles and New York. I attended college in San Diego and now living in Boston, for graduate work. There are similarities/differences in that as well, but I guess that'll have to wait for another entry date.
Just wanted to mention a few thoughts about my observations and maybe, help someone understand those cities a little bit more without spending the rent I did for those places :)