Paradise Lost and Found

Things are never as simple as they seem at first. San Diego is certainly the paradise it was billed, although I do live in constant fear of being run down by a phalanx of SUV’s, or worse, giving one an unmentionably expensive dent. It is beautiful here to be sure, and we love our five minute commute to the beach. But we were in the park the other day and met another family with a little girl our little girl’s age. They’d just returned to the States from Japan. And they want to go right back. Why was a little ambiguous, just like what we were feeling ourselves. They just haven’t found what they thought they’d find here.

Strange, isn’t it? This is San Diego. People move here because they want to LIVE. Here. I’m wondering now, though, what they really mean by “live.” It seems to encompass two main concepts here: working and collecting. The working fills their time, and the collecting fills their space. Everybody here is busy. Now I know it’s a mark of importance to SAY you’re busy, but these people actually really are. They return from work at seven or eight at night (and that’s without siesta, thank you, or possibly even lunch). And they spend the proceeds on luxurious but shoddy overpriced cookie-cutter real estate, fast food, various places to put their children while they’re gone, and electronic gadgets to fill their big empty houses (oh, and expensive cars to fill all those extra garages. Which may, ironically, be the only logical expenditure, considering the amount of time most people here spend in their cars).

Our neighborhood is full of brand-new palm-tree landscaped condos and little gated communities with five “sumptuous” floorplans called seabreeze, ocean crest, meadowbrook, forest glen, midsummer night’s dream, or even sillier things. All advertise “Tuscan style architecture,” or a “Mediterranean feel.” Finally it occured to us that if the epitome of architecture here is trying so desperately to be “Mediterranean” or “Tuscan,” maybe we should try the real thing. In fact, we feel like we’ve been seeing too little of the real thing in general here. It’s gotten so I only ever shop the perimeter of the grocery store, since all I find on the aisles are endless permutations of packaged corn syrup, salt, and soybean oil.

So we’re moving. To Europe. Ironically enough, by the time we get there, Bush will no longer be president (well, barring any extra ambitions of which I’m not aware). We’ve considered everywhere from Belgium to Malta. We’re stuck at the moment deciding between France and Italy.

Both have excellent cheese, so it may come down to the weather.