Mrs Elliott and I moved from San Diego in 2008. Until this weekend, I had not re-visited the place. But I had to fly down on Friday to take care of some business, and I just got back last night.
Guy at the rental car place wanted to know if I wanted to upgrade from the base model. "I drive a 1984 VW van," I told him. "This is an upgrade."
I was curious to see if my feelings about the SoCal had changed.
What I learned is that, no, nothing has changed. The charms of San Diego, and SoCal in general, escape me. I don't find it in any way attractive. Sure, the ocean is pretty, but there's only a super-thin sliver of coastline compared with the hundreds and hundreds of square miles of traffic and buildings inland. The rest is sere hills, endless encrustations of crappy-looking stucco houses, billboards, and strip malls (Oh my god the strip malls are everywhere!). The driving style is binary: on and off: they are either flooring the gas when the light turns green, or jamming on the brakes for a red. And crowded. So many people, so much pollution. Sales tax, pump your own gas, glary moisture-laden skies.
When the day came in 2008 to to move up here, I could hardly wait, and hit the road feeling like I had finally escaped from a long, long nightmare. I felt exactly the same way yesterday when I got onto the plane.
When I deplaned, I smelled the perfume of the junipers and felt the crispness of the air. And Mrs Elliott was up, waiting for me. It was good.
I don't get SoCal's attraction. It has many fans, and I'm happy that they are happy to live there. But I could not find a single thing I missed.