Waking Up in California
Byline: Fairfax, CA, Sept. 29, 2018
There’s something about waking up three hours later than you usually do on the East Coast that is jarring. The world, your “usual” world has already been up and running (without you, btw) while you’ve slept! It’s not so much the notion that you’ve “missed something” as the realization that the “world” (big and small) has been quite busy without you, without your awareness of it.
So, while it was only 6:30 a.m. when I completed my normal sleep cycle, it was already 9:30 a.m. back in New York --- and in Washington, D.C. --- and in Boston. The Yankee game had long been finished as I watched the A’s and the Angels here last night. Folks here, West Coast denizens (natives and transplants alike) could care less, it seems. There is a satisfaction among Californians that they, in fact, have made the right choice and that this is the place to be. It is neither arrogant nor pretentious. It simply “is.”
They are doing the most about climate change. They are overwhelmingly progressive with only pockets of reactionary “Redness.” The weather’s great (if you discount those mudslides, fires, and earthquakes, of course --- but don’t quibble). The produce is fresh, the scenery is breathtaking, and the people are beautiful. And yet . . . they are three hours behind!
I haven’t looked at the news yet today --- not on my phone or any other electronic device, not in a newspaper or on television --- so I don’t know if anything has happened “back East.” And it’s not that Californians aren’t engaged in all the insanity that currently roils our nation. But, like a good athlete, a good ballplayer, “they let the game come to them,” they don’t swing at wild pitches. Maybe it’s the three-hour gap that allows for certain ballast. Maybe reading that Tweet three hours later than when it was “hot” has a certain mitigating effect.
Whatever the case, it’s a phenomena that hit me hard this morning --- a lovely Saturday in the Bay Area. We’ll head out on the Larkspur ferry later and be deposited at the foot of AT&T Park to see the hometown Giants take on their longtime rival Dodgers --- two teams that I first knew when they lived in my time zone, three hours earlier. A rivalry that simmered for years between the Polo Grounds in Manhattan and Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. When Jackie and PeeWee and Duke battled Willie and Monte and Sal “the Barber” Maglie with only a subway ride separating the dreaded foes. Now it’s a flight of several hours and most of the league’s games are almost over before a first pitch is thrown. There’s that three-hour gap.
In the grand scheme of things three hours isn’t much, of course, and maybe that’s why these Californians seem so cool. While we New Yorkers careen at a breakneck pace as if every moment matters so much, that three-hour time cushion has conditioned these Golden Bears to take a deep breath, relax a little bit and let the game come to them.