Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Ok so, as promised, I spent five (count them, FIVE) hours in front of the T.V. today watching TLC. It was a Memorial Day "Trading Spaces" marathon, and I got sucked in! I justified this to myself by noting that I wasn't just watching T.V., but watching T.V. in between doing laundry and drinking beers, which were the real tasks at-hand.

For anybody that doesn't know (because I didn't before today), Trading Spaces is a show where two sets of neighbors get $1,000 and the help of a professional designer with which to set about completely re-making one room of their neighbor's house. This happens in the span of one weekend, and the hour-long show condenses everything so we see only the most interesting parts and don't have to actually watch them do too much of the work. Now, don't misunderstand me...I do not think that this show is so interesting that I just HAD to talk about it here. It's just that there was one episode that got me thinking about something that I think is really cool. The show travels all over the country to find these neighbors. They aren't necessarily married couples, but they often are unless they're mothers and daughters or something like that. So anyway, there was one show on the marathon today that took place in Oakland. The first set of neighbors was a married couple, an African-American woman and a white man. Their neighbors were a lesbian couple with two small children. Watching this (and knowing that people all over the country were watching it) made me feel strangely (and immensely) proud. I mean, there are parts of this country where either one of those couples would be absolutely unacceptable. And here, in California, they are neighbors and they are friends.

There is a line in the movie L.A. Story (one of my favorite movies of all time) where the English reporter makes a comment about how the people in L.A. seem to have their own set of rules, their own little world, really, and that nobody is looking to the outside for approval or reassurance that what they're doing is okay. I think that is true of California, in general, which is why it would be so hard to ever leave here. When you grow up here, you take things for granted...diversity, open-mindedness, liberal political climate, sunny weather.

I remember flying into Cleveland once to visit my parents when they were living there. I was walking through the airport and I started to get this really weird feeling. I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what it was that was making things seems out of place. At the end of a long walk to the end of terminal and toward the baggage claim, it dawned on me. There were so many WHITE people!!!! Everywhere I turned, white people in all directions. Now, this is not to criticize the white people, or to say that they shouldn't be there, all congregated together in Ohio like that. It's just to say that when a California native is suddenly thrust into the midst of a homogeneous scene, things feel a little off.

I get this feeling a bit when I go to visit my parents in Colorado, too, where they now live. When I mention it, they swear to me that the Hispanic population there is growing in leaps and bounds. I suppose I believe them, but I think I'd have to let it grow for a few more years before I'd really feel comfortable moving there (which is something I've considered). I would never want to do the disservice of raising my future children in a place where they don't get to experience the kind of diversity that I grew up with. And I don't have any illusions about this...it's not that I think that California doesn't have racism problems or that hate crimes are less frequent here. It's just that I would want to give my kids a fighting chance at being able to look around them and see people for who they are, with fewer overt separations. Ya'll dig?

Oh well, it's late, and though I'm not exactly tired, I'm not exactly functioning all that well either. I think I'll call it a night.

No comments: