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Life In Southern California From A Bay Area Native’s Perspective

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Photo of neon sign that says “Welcome to Hollywood.”

Written By Sabrina Monet:

I never felt comfortable waiting for the ferry back to Vallejo. The crowds were too much. I would rather hang out at ACME bakery or somewhere similar. I’d even risk missing the ferry all together to prolong the delusion that I wasn’t just another person in a faceless sea of others all existing while simultaneously pretending not to notice each other’s existence.

The atmosphere is Half Moon Bay views with fourth-generation Piedmont residents, but they don’t outwardly hate newcomers.

In Southern California, I don’t have to worry about this in the same way. The entire South Bay region of Los Angeles County seems to be built for individuals that don’t want to get out of their vehicles unless they’re taking a stroll down the Strand or heading into a dinner reservation. The atmosphere is Half Moon Bay views with fourth-generation Piedmont residents, but they don’t outwardly hate newcomers.

I’d stroll through City Light Books, and it felt like a lesson on all the history San Francisco had to offer.

Surrounded by national parks, I never left the house in the Bay Area. Here, I actually travel the mile or so to the beach just to walk along the Pacific Ocean.

When I lived in the Bay Area, I’d stroll through City Light Books, and it felt like a lesson on all the history San Francisco had to offer. The authors that had come in and out of those doors, the stories that lined the shelves. Green Apple Books is another location in the city that I could lose hours. They were book shops with aspirational titles. If you weren’t dreaming of writing like someone whose work was there, you were learning about authors that would soon make that list.

The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, on the other hand, is just a whole lot of fun. You can walk into this bookstore an aspiring writer and forget about all of it while you sift through old 45s or get lost in the stacks on the second floor. An evening at this bookshop feels like a night at an exhibit that’s been closed for a private event. There’s music playing, there are always new things to see, and the patrons of this establishment whether new or regulars walk in with an energy of excitement.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m new and have only been here a little over a year or if it truly is different from the Bay Area, but it ironically feels less performative in Los Angeles.

The energy is what I notice the most in Southern California. I don’t know if it’s because I’m new and have only been here a little over a year or if it truly is different from the Bay Area, but it ironically feels less performative in Los Angeles. I can geek out over a new eatery or get excited about something as simple as making it to the beach after work for a walk before the sun sets and it feels okay to do so.

I spent six years navigating Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods during my lunch breaks and most of the time it was excruciating. If you managed to get through the parking lot without hitting a pedestrian, by the time you made it inside, there was always someone ready to comment on how you were choosing your produce wrong. Why these two grocery chains? They were the closest to my work. Yes, I would eventually give up and drive thru McDonald’s on San Pablo and Gilman. That doesn’t happen as often down south.

Even when Trader Joe’s is packed to the hilt, I don’t mind bumping elbows with other patrons while I’m reaching for bananas or apples. I can turn to a stranger and be openly happy if I’ve found a new cleaning product. That never happened at Berkeley Bowl. Even if I came across the Quicos on sale, I packed a pound bag and kept that happy to myself.

My biggest takeaway from this musing is that I’m, daresay, happy here. Maybe that was the key ingredient that the Bay Area had been missing for a while. I don’t want to bet on that theory completely. I think it’s easier to be a blank slate here. In a town filled with people wanting to make it in writing or some other creative endeavor, no one is paying attention to the little things, like what you place in your grocery cart. Here, the dream is so palpable, because so many people are openly after it, that whatever gets you through the day is celebrated in that most everyone around you are indifferent to it.

Could you imagine grabbing a coffee and browsing ACME bakery while telling the crowd that you’re risking missing the ferry back home because you’re too antsy to stand in line for longer than ten minutes? I can say things like that freely here. Maybe it’s because people just don’t care enough to pay attention, but it sure is liberating.

I guess the difference between the Bay Area and Los Angeles is that the actors in L.A. aren’t acting all the time…

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