I've been here in Jacksonville, Florida for all of 5 days now. And it has been, as expected, a huge culture shock. I've been acclimating well I think, but there are still so many moments thus far, that are very interesting experiences.
First the landscape. Is phenomenal. So much more green, the kinds of green tones, jewel greens that I never have seen in california. Big, draping lengths of moss hanging from the trees. And long stretches of water weaving through the land. The humidity that every one was warning me against back home in Cali, is not the most horrendous thing ever....yet. It's still early in the season and the air is pretty muggy but, in an odd comforting way, I don't mind it too much. Oh! And cicadasssss! Large fat winged insects that make this insane ringing noise through the canopies of the trees. I have been searching high and low for them, because in Japan, they have them in insane abundance during the summer. And with similar summer climates I expected to find them. And although I don't see them nearly as much as I do in Japan, I do hear them and have definitely found at least some evidence of their existence....which makes me happy.
The food culture is different. It's more apparent to me that back home, we seem to eat simply to sustain, and not to enjoy. Here, with the crawfish boils and front yard BBQs that are started early in the day only to be enjoyed later that evening, not with just the family, but with the whole block, that is definitely something you don't typically experience in Cali. I most certainly witnessed a BBQ today that puts all the shiny high tech BBQs advertised and crooned over by the equally shiny and well groomed southern california men to shame.
The one thing I can not get used to yet, and am horrified on the daily of, is the unabashed shameless lack of fashion forward-ness, and lack of style here. As an artistic designer with a keen eye for style and aesthetics, seeing women at the store in shower caps, no bra, and flip flops over fuzzy socks is just an "aw HELL naw" moment every time. At least put on some blue jeans and take the damn shower cap off, no? In comparison to back home, many people are straight simple and country. I can't help but stare in wide eyed shock at some people's seemingly absolute lack of so called class, in comparison to those back home. But most people have heart. Big ones, and you can't help but enjoy their company most of the time.
This is most definitely not a city where I feel immediately at home. This most certainly is the furthest thing from New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. For being the largest city in the US per area, it has an extraordinarily small town feel to it for me. I have yet to find my niche, or my groove of life here and it is definitely unsettling and anxiety inducing. I feel so much smaller here being so far from home than I did in a city as large and as busy as New York where you would think the hustle and bustle would bury you alive. But the quiet of Jacksonville seems even more stifling to me....but then it's only been a week.
But even for having been here a week, I can see how now the place I used to call home, California, and more particularly the image that pertains to souther californian lifestyle can be so glamorous to people around the country. The lifestyle I took for such granted and the egos and attitudes that are cultivated there is something so foreign and different to those here. So even with my big head and pride too big for someone so small in stature, I have to say that as much as I said I hated it and wanted to "GTFO" of Cali....I miss it so, so much. For the first time in my life I feel terribly home sick, even though I am too stubborn to admit it out loud.
....but I still don't miss the LA traffic. :)