You Know You’re From California When…


Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in California? In my “day job” I regularly talk to people all over the country on an almost daily basis, and more often than not they’re not from the state of California. It seems I almost always get the same comments from everyone “Must be nice!”. It makes me wonder what people really think living in California is like? I thought the best way to go about giving all Non-Californian’s insight about what life is really like living in California would be to review some responses that Californian’s would use to finish the statement: You know you’re from California when…

I asked around for more insight and compiled a short list of the best responses. In all honesty, this list could literally go on for quite some time (it’s a big state, in case you didn’t pay attention in geography class) but I’ll keep it short since I’m not really sure how much time you have on your hands. Now keep in mind this list may not cover everything (you know… it’s one of those “never ending, always growing and changing” type of deals) and they’re listed in no particular order. But I’d like to think overall any non-Californians will get the gist.

You know you’re from California when…

Your wife grabs a sweater before going out in July because “It might be cold in CVS”.


Her and Him - Jacket 70 Degree Day in California
High of 70 in California that day – Heck Yes I brought my jacket!

Yes, this was my husband’s’ response when I asked him how he would finish that statement. And yes, he is absolutely talking about me. Here’s my justification: If the temperature isn’t at least 80 I’m bringing my jacket! I feel like businesses around here tend to overcompensate for how insanely hot it is by blasting their air conditioning. Granted the break from the heat is fantastic… for a minute. Then you want to try to finish your shopping as soon as you can just to get back outside to thaw out.
Now, this brings up my very own response to the statement which would be:

“What you consider to be a “dressing for cold weather” is technically a zip-up hoodie and TOMS”.
I’m not quite sure when I forgot what real cold was, but when we took the family to visit my Dad in Oregon last March I – WAS – FREEZING. My jacket wasn’t remotely enough to keep me warm and my TOMS soaked up every drop of moisture on the ground making me even colder. Thank goodness I brought a slightly thicker jacket and a pull-over! While we were up there I bought a pair of Converse hoping maybe they would be more “waterproof” than my TOMS and thus keep me warmer… No dice. We’re talking frozen, numb toes and everything. I officially admit I have absolutely wiped the skill of dressing for cold weather from my memory. And I don’t care to re-learn it. Because if I’m cold even when it’s 75 degrees out, chances are good I won’t be leaving Southern California anytime soon.

When just the thought of packing up the family to go to the beach immediately makes you not tell them that you had that thought in the first place

Look, the good state of California is home to 12% of the US population. And while that may not sound like a lot, it actually is. In fact, when you decide you’ve built up the courage to take your family to the beach on a hot weekend you’ll see just how many humans 12% of the population really is.

Believe it or not, not everyone in California has the luxury of a pool in their backyard. The small percent who do, don’t use it as much as they probably intended. Those who don’t have one are at the beach.

We absolutely adore our children, of course. We happen to think our kids are pretty damn awesome, as a matter of fact. But yes, more times than not this is exactly what we do. Now before you start judging us for denying our children this beautiful family day full of memories, sunshine and laughter, let me break down the thought process for you.

You decide you’re gonna do it. You’re taking the family to the beach. Which beach? Does it have parking? How close is the parking lot to the beach? Do we have to pay for parking or find parking on the street? Do you have cash to pay for parking? Does it have bathrooms? Are they clean enough to take a dump in if you need to? Cause guaranteed the little man will need to at some point.

you know you're from california when beach crowd

How long will we be there? It’s about an hour to the beach each way (for us) so at least two hours. We want to make the trip worth it, right? So we’ll be there all day. We’re gonna have to bring drinks, lunch and snacks. Now you have to cut up apples, or fruit, maybe get some granola bars, make some sandwiches, etc. And since we’re going to be gone all day, we bring the dog. Now we need to bring dog things (leash, collar, water bowl). Wait, does that beach allow dogs? If not, you have to figure out which beach does.

Towels. Food. Drinks. A change of clothes. Sandals. Sunscreen for the kids. A beach bag to put everything in. Now that beach bag is packed so full that the handles don’t even touch. Oh the kids say they want to bring beach toys too so of course you add them to your giant beach bag (they don’t get used, by the way, they never get used, the only reason you’re agreeing to bring them is because you hope to forget them “by accident”).

You made it, you’re there. You’ve parked, you’ve walked. You’re at the beach. Now you need to find a spot on the sand that isn’t RIGHT next to someone else’s little setup. So you walk along to find a spot trying not to kick sand on everyone else’s towels while toting your giant beach bag and keeping your dog well behaved as your kids run like wild banshees to the ocean’s edge with not a care in the world kicking all sorts of sand into everyone’s food and towels and babies eyes.

You find a spot, get all set up and you’re just about to go join the kids when your son runs up to you soaking wet with sand all over everything and he’s hungry already. So now you’re feeding the kids…. Which ends up basically being on a rotation for the next few hours until you run out of food or water and kids start getting grouchy. Now you basically reverse all these steps until you’re home.

Still wanna go to the beach? Yeah, neither do we.

you know you're from california when

When it finally does start raining, no matter where you are, people will flock to the nearest window and stare in amazement like they’ve never seen water fall from the sky.

I have to admit I’m guilty of this myself. When I’m sitting at work in my grey cubicle staring at my computer screen and I hear the distinct sound of rain on the skylight near me I can’t help but immediately get up and run (ok, not really run) to the front of the building to see the rain. And I’m not the only one. Anyone who doesn’t have a window and CAN do it, does it. It’s like we all turn into these mindless robots all moving towards the same front window to observe this miraculous experience of real rain in Southern California. In our defense though, very rarely does it rain really hard like that so when it does, it is nice to see and it’s relaxing. *shrug*. What can I say? “Rain” in Southern California is called “Drizzle” in Seattle. What Seattle considers heavy rain is a full blown storm in Southern California.

Caught in a rainstorm in Southern California
My daughter and I – caught in a rare rainstorm in Southern California

In fact, I don’t recall a lot of people in Seattle opening their windows at night just to listen to the rain (actually, now that I think about it, you never really have to… You can always hear it) but we do that in Southern California. You see, I was born in California but I wasn’t raised here. My family moved to Washington state when I was 6, and that’s where I was raised. I didn’t move back to California until I was in my early 20s. I just assumed this weird robot response to rain was just me thinking it was nice to hear the rain again (even though the rain was the reason I moved in the first place). Guess not! It’s just my California roots showing!

You consider Northern California and Southern California to be two different states.

If you haven’t heard about this then you really have never been to, or know anyone from California. After living in California for a while and seeing most of it (north and south) you come to the realization that Northern California and Southern California are two very distinct entities. They have their own climates, atmospheres, mentalities, etc. If Oregon and Southern California had a baby, it would be named Northern California.

Southern California could even be divided into two states itself. We’ll call them “Central” and “Southern” California’s to keep things clean. Central (Los Angeles, Orange County, etc) seems to me more superficial. Everyone comparing themselves to everyone else, etc. Whereas Southern (San Diego) is laid back, surfer, chill, bonfire on the beach type of place. Just do your thing man, do what makes you happy, live your life.

When you’ve had 2 melanoma moles removed but you still aren’t wearing sunscreen because you wanna get a good base tan

Obviously this makes absolutely no sense at all. But seriously, a lot of people here just don’t think about sunscreen. Or maybe they just don’t care, who knows. It could be because we are too busy packing the damn beach bag and worried about bringing more sand home with us than we left at the beach.

There’s a lot to do in California, and most of the activities are going to be outside. You would think that would be even more reason to have sunscreen handy right? Not so much. It is pretty rare that I see anyone under the age of let’s say… 73 opening up their fanny pack and applying their 50 spf sunblock unless they are from out of town. Is it smart? No. Unless you have kids, it’s probably not the first thing on your list of things to remember to grab when you are running out of the house on a sunny day, which is every day, all year. I guess for some people sometimes a good base tan takes precedence over a healthy pale glow!

You hate it when people call California “Cali”. Nobody in California says they’re from “Cali”.

That’s it. There is no good reason for us to not like it. It’s just annoying. That’s all there is to it.

In Conclusion

The list could really go on forever, and according to the Mr, this has gone on quite long enough! (Believe it or not this post was originally 2536 words long… for real tho!) There are literally endless things one could place at the end of this sentence. In fact, if we really wanted to get lost in a jungle of words and reasons; we could compare how Californians see themselves versus how the rest of the states see them. Maybe not so much of a You know you’re from California when… but a You can always tell someone is from California when… I’m pretty sure the responses to that would be interesting, if not entertaining!

Like with any state California has its perks and its downsides, it’s all a matter of finding the humor in both that builds this simple camaraderie between people who live in the same state. I’d be curious to hear what your experience is when you come out to California!