We’re Not in the OC Anymore, Toto

orange county elephantsSo I’ve moved again. And after a very official two-hands-and-two-feet count I can now claim to have lived in nineteen homes across six states and spanning three continents. I could blame Military Dad or Traveling Mom but seven of these have been since I’ve been out on my own so I clearly have a wandering eye for real estate.

And although each of these places holds a special place in my heart – except for maybe the little house I rented in South Phoenix that required I sign a “no shopping carts on the lawn” clause – I have a special affinity for Orange County, California.

For the last four years I thrived living life “behind the Orange Curtain.” When your home, office, airport, friends, and Trader Joe’s are all in a six mile radius, there really is no place like home. And while I recently described my move to Colorado as Goldilocks finally getting it right, there are several things I will miss about the yoga studio capital of the world:

Trader Joes: I refused to move to Colorado until the Denver metro area built a TJs. Happily, they heard my plea. You’re welcome Colorado – now please stop buying out all the pot stickers I really really miss them.

Disneyland: So this may have been more like 9 miles away, but using my season pass to grab two margaritas at California Adventure followed by a quick run through Space Mountain with a group of “grown up” friends is the epitome of a random Tuesday night.

Explaining that OC is not LA: I think this must be what New Yorkers feel when someone from New Jersey says they are from “pretty much New York.”

September First: No matter the temperature, the moment the calendar flips to September, Southern Californians unite in a county-wide boycott on summer. This is the day to break out the Uggs, sweaters and scarves and pair them with your favorite shorts – it’s 90 degrees, we aren’t stupid.

The “Uniform”: Yoga pants, tank, flip flops and really big designer purse and sunglasses to fancy it all up. Small dog optional.

Cupcakeries: Don’t be fooled by the Lululemon crops and CrossFit tee, elastic waistbands are all in the name of being able to down the new maple bacon frosted mini at the corner cupcake shop <dramatic pause for reflective drool>.

Valet: In Orange County there is valet – often complimentary – at every mall, movie theater, tanning salon and gas station. After an arduous four mile drive, we deserve to spoil ourselves.

The “The”: I lived right between the 405 and the 5. I’ve had to relearn the difference between an interstate and a county highway and a state route and a plain old route and I don’t like it. The “the” is much awesomer.

As I begin to discover feelings of home in my new city, I’m glad I can reflect fondly upon a place that was so briefly my home yet made such an impact on me. I may have parted the Orange Curtain but I won’t part with my flip flops, and my cupcakes, and my little dog too (who, coincidentally, kinda looks like Toto).

What would you miss most about where you live?

Related posts: My First Pair of Ruby Slippers, A Free Tour of Trader Joe’s, Moving is Underrated, How to Move Five Minutes Away

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About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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16 Responses to We’re Not in the OC Anymore, Toto

  1. Quotidien Rachael says:

    The points in this post are so true! I grew up in Orange County before moving to Buenos Aires after high school. Some of the things that annoyed before, are the things I miss the most (like your “the” point).

  2. I just LOVE your writing style and concur with it all. Growing up in Encino (the Valley!) and then moving to Oceanside, I very carefully surrounded Orange County! I really DESPISE the So Cal heat and I cannot believe that I was born here, and I will die here? Never living anywhere else? Please, no!

  3. paywindow7 says:

    Well let’s see, if I were to vacate my palace on the prairie take a swing north along “The 25” I would have to adapt to no longer having to endure sweltering heat and sky high humidity seven months out of the year. Hmm, Is the bus here yet, when can I leave? Actually you are now living in an area of the world that I love, the Rocky Mountains. I know you will be getting much advise from the locals there about where to go and what to see but I’ll put in my two cents worth also: head southwest (I’m assuming you are in Denver or somewhere along I-25) to Durango then drive north along the Million Dollar Highway over to Silverton, Ouray then up to Telluride. Then to get rustic I also recommend a trip to Marble Colorado then east in a four wheeler to the Crystal river valley and the iconic Crystal Mill (sometimes called Dead Horse Mill). The Crystal river valley is about two humps south of Aspen. Forget poor ol’ Aspen though. What used to be a beautiful town has been covered in sparkle and hollywood glitz.
    I wish you the best in your transition.

  4. misslaurel says:

    Love this, flip flops, cupcakes & all. I totally get it too – when I lived in NY, I missed the SoCal Mexican food. Now that I’m back, I just want a decent NYC meal, especially Italian. Enjoy your new digs! I look forward to more of your blog posts!

  5. I loved visiting the OC and the valet parking everywhere was my favorite! I am sure you will find all sorts of wonderful things about Colorado too in time. Maybe skiing? Pick up some of the frozen naan bread next time you are at TJs – I love that stuff! I just throw it on the grill from frozen. Yummy! Oh and the corn salsa (no tomatoes) is amazing on everything!

  6. Wow, almost makes me want to move back to Southern California! Of course, I haven’t lived there since 1966 and that was Northridge; not the OC. 🙂 If I moved away from my current home in Northern Nevada I would miss the wide open, uncrowded spaces the most.

  7. I live in Australia, but it seems we can all appreciate the same type of things!

  8. kitchenmudge says:

    I’ve lived in central OC for twenty-odd years, and your list is sounding a little uh… South County? (For outsiders: There are 34 cities in the County, and many nuances to living in one or another. See my ancient post: http://kitchenmudge.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/meanwhile-back-in-the-county/)

    Living just north of SanTana, I would miss the magnificent variety of Mexican food, and anywhere without a good chile verde is unworthy of my footstep.

    I hear ya about “the 5” and such. Freeways mark out the territory very well. I’ll envy your occasional snow in the Rockies, but know that you’ll get tired of it along about late January.

    Valet? You actually let someone else drive your car?

    I know you’re not in my neighborhood when you mention Sept.1st without the Orange Street Fair:
    http://kitchenmudge.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/laboring/
    …not that I’d miss that much.

    Mostly, I’d miss being able to walk a couple of blocks for just about anything I really need, but that’s just my own little neighborhood. Someone who lives up in the hills would have a whole different story.

  9. seekingbeth says:

    I live in FL. I’m just OC with humidity. I’m a military daughter and a military wife. I’ve moved 27 times and been around the world 3 times in distance. You have me beat on continents as I’ve only lived on 2 but I beat you in states. Opps, this is not a contest. Sorry. I tend to get a bit competitive.
    What will I miss about FL? Nothing because my next move is in a pine box.

  10. camparigirl says:

    Not that I am an expert of the OC – am an adopted LA girl after all – but I hope you will write about how Denver differs. Good and bad. As someone who has moved a lot, I am always intrigued by what are the hardest things to leave behind (in my case, it always seems to be the hairdresser).

  11. I was born and raised in OC but I like Placer County better. Unless your car breaks down. Then you’re stuck until it’s fixed. At least in Sheridan.

  12. InvisibleInk says:

    I still say the “The” before every freeway, local dialects be damned. I also call everything not a street a freeway. It’s not a highway or a route or an interstate — it’s a freeway and if you don’t mind, I’ll freeway whenever I please.

    That said, being behind the Orange Curtain can be a bit grating. I was Costa Mesa myself and even then it was still tiresome being cloistered in ticky tacky houses with street names of every single island, U.S. state, major foreign nation, spice, and flower. It’s like the county planner got locked inside a broom closet over the weekend with a map, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, and a basket of pot brownies.

    It’s also too expensive to live, too shallow, too conservative, and way too many insane drivers. I mean, I used to get on the 405 in the morning, hands at 10 and 2, hoping to gawd nobody cut me off without signaling and thereby cause a sig-alter in one swift fender-bender.

    I do miss the food places and haunts I grew up with though… Lil’ Pickle, Wahoo’s, Metro Pointe, Dog Beach, Sunday drum circles at PCH and Main, The Fair, OCC spring semester, the swap meet, trolling the Viejo’s, and pho-hopping in Westminster. Ahh, such halcyon days.

    But now that you’re a Colorodian you might as well go skiing with a doobie, amiright?

  13. annieemmy says:

    Bwahahahaha! LOVE this. Also, I love your blog. Additionally, Trader Joe’s is the bomb. That is all.

  14. Ashley Donde says:

    Living in Arizona, I can’t imagine moving somewhere that doesn’t have 340 sunny days a year! SoCal is the only imaginable possibility. I could suck up the high cost of living for a beach any day!

  15. chattyi says:

    Incredible read!!

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