September 18, 2011

Three Types of Bay Area Californians

Now that I've lived in California for nearly 20 years, I am recognizing that there are three types of people in the Bay Area. There are the people who live in the Bay Area because industry brought them here and the cultural scene, loosely defined, fills their lives. These people take excursions out of the Bay Area to the wine country, Tahoe and perhaps south to LA and possibly Monterey.

Then there are the people who have a greater awareness of being a Californian and are engaged beyond the Bay Area. These folks are less San Francisco-focused and spend time exploring the less popular excursions, really getting to know the state's communities, natural wonders, its history and diverse cultural offerings.

I definitely fall into category two and as I interact with more people I am finding that I really enjoy those who savor the "greater" California. The tell-tale sign of meeting folks like me is that we want to talk about the local and sometimes obscure hikes we have trekked, state parks we have traversed, small towns we have visited, and of course visiting my beloved Missions.

Then there is a third type of Bay Area person and these are the folks who are afraid of Oakland. Some of the fearful even live in Oakland, which is a perception barrier this wonderful city has to help them overcome. When I tell people I live in Oakland I immediately have to listen to a joke about how it is unsafe. If these people actually visit me they always state concerns about their car getting stolen or their being mugged on the streets. I'm compelled to convert these people. This is my Oakland Mission.

How do you evolve into a Californian? You connect with your local community, are open to meeting folks who live outside of the Bay Area, and really settle into the state as your home. This has taken me nearly twenty years but I do believe I am now officially a Californian.