Would there really be rows and rows of tree lined streets and manicured yards?
Would attractive men of ambiguous age with carefully arranged “careless” hairstyles spill out of every Starbucks one hand on their BlackBerry, the other on their extra foam soy chai latte?
Would shiny $50,000 SUV’s driven by impeccably dressed and impossibly thin moms jockey for the last compact space at Costco while their faux-hawked toddler sipped contentedly from his organic Pom juice, the Bugaboo neatly folded in the back?
Would the skies really be not cloudy all day?
The answer, actually, is yes.
I'm starting to wonder, is that really such a bad thing?
I’ve never really considered myself as “fitting in” well.
Most of the time in new situations I end up with friends, but I’ve always felt it was more of a fluke – that I had manipulated them through the powers of my constant talking. Or maybe the hypnotic nasal quality of my voice?
When we lived in
We lived there for exactly one year. It was the worst year of my life.
I hated myself.
I felt isolated. I felt judged. I felt lonely. (This was also – surprise! – when I started this blog.) I honestly can’t tell you how much of my problem was my projecting or how much was that women truly did not want to be my friend. But, I can tell you that I put myself out there. I arranged dinners. I arranged play dates. I tried to finagle myself into the right cliques.
And yet, each experience was a disaster.
I didn’t want to believe the OC housewife stereotype, but my interactions were not far from it. Lunch conversations were dominated by talk of money or appearance: who owned what where and how much equity they had, who was gated, who wasn’t, who had had Botox, who needed it. Contractors, nannies, and hairstylists’ information were routinely passed around - the trading cards of suburbia.
Everyone looked flawless, but no one dared acknowledge it. As if we were all encouraging each other’s denial that we weren’t just effortlessly thin and blonde and tan with white teeth and invisible pores.
I tried to play the part (“Of course you should always overpay your nanny!”), but inside I felt hopeless that I would never connect with these women. That I would never again have a real friend. That I would never fit in.
How can we become friends, I thought, when I know more about your granite’s origin than your own?
When we moved three years ago, I was grateful to move somewhere that was so un-Orange County. To move somewhere without the pressure to be perfect. Ah, I thought, NOW I’ll be happy.
Yes, well. Careful what you wish for.
What originally appeared to be “individuality” in the city soon looked like indifference. And what we considered “casual” eventually seemed sloppy and "unpretentious" turned into downright depressing.
What a surprise. Miserable again!
But, then an amazing thing happened. I started to have real problems.
My dad and aunt died within a year of each other. I developed crippling anxiety. Chris and I hit some marital bumps. Then, we nearly lost everything when we couldn't sell our house.
Nothing snaps a girl into reality like those experiences.
The eyes of someone who isn’t desperate to fit in.
The eyes of someone confident of their worth.
The eyes of someone who isn’t trying to compete.
It's a whole lot more fun this way.
We’re renting in a neighborhood of homeowners. My budget is wound so tight that I’m eying
And yet. I could not love it here more.
In the three weeks since school started? I’ve had two lovely lunches, a play date, five party invites, and a girls’ dinner (finally! drinks!). But, who’s counting? I’ve been welcomed with open arms by every single woman I’ve met since moving here.
(Almost every.) (What is wrong with that one uptight chick who won’t smile back? I see your eyes through your sunglasses, lady. I know you see me.)
I look around here now and I see so much to love about this place – so much I missed the first time around. I see ambitious dads and fun-loving moms. I see parks on every block and a million excuses to put on your shoes and go outside. I see concerts and art shows and martini bars. I see good conversation and even better food.
Were all these opportunities to make friends and live life here before?
Were all these funny talented women here before?
It makes me wonder now, who was doing the judging after all? How much of my first experience was about who I was then?
I’m so glad that we gave this place another chance. Because when you peel back the first layer, there’s a lot of gooey goodness underneath.
Orange County: It’s like a scab!
I think I should submit that to City Hall.
**Also, can we just breathe a sigh of relief that Yvonne is okay? I love her more than all my shoes combined and I’m hugging her with my keyboard. Tightly.***What's that you say? You say I claimed to have stories? That for some reason I am not sharing? It is true. I do. And I pinky swear one of them is going up over the weekend.