Monday, July 18, 2005

A Sampling of Things I Miss and Do Not Miss From Home In No Particular Order*

Miss: Jack in the Box. After a night of drinking, I defy you to find something better to prevent a hangover (or cure one the following afternoon) than the Ultimate Cheeseburger with a side of curly fries. Most Jack in the Boxes are open pretty late, too, and the mix of clientele at 2 a.m. is entertaining to watch, to say the least.

Do Not Miss: My $685 a month apartment in San Jose (1996). It was a "junior one bedroom," which really is just a euphemism for "it's just a freaking studio, all right?" It was all I could afford that didn't neighbor a strip club, and I have no idea how I did. In fact, a great majority of the apartments in my price range at this time didn't even need a walk-through to tell me that they would be unliveable. Just keep on driving, especially before you get shot or asked if you want a date. Also, "All utilities included, first month's rent free, no credit check" is not a good sign.

A mere wall separated my bedroom from the living room -- no door. No door on the closet, either. Once I was bored, so I counted the number of doors in my apartment, not counting the front door, and I counted one, which was to the bathroom. I only did it once, though, so my numbers might be a little off. My apartment was in a terrible part of town, too, but at least there was a 7-11 and a Mexican restaurant that made delicious burritos on the corner, both of which I made frequent trips to. The 7-11 was no Starbucks, but I'll take it.

Miss: In n' Out Burger. You haven't had In n' Out? You are not living your life to the fullest. Achieve great heights and realize your full potential with a double double with cheese and onions, an order of fries and a chocolate shake. You can get them in Vegas, too, if you don't feel like trekking all the way to CA. Mmm, Vegas.

Do Not Miss: Traffic. It really wasn't so bad when I was living there, and even if there were rough mornings, I knew all the shortcuts around it. But after I left, the dot coms really began booming and the population skyrocketed and condos began springing up everywhere, and suddenly, we had to start calculating distances from here to there the LA way: "45 minutes with no traffic, 3 hours with." And for a place that strives to be as little like LA as possible, this was a real blow to our pride.

Miss: REAL sourdough bread. Please, don't even eat the garbage sold here on the East Coast. I'm telling you, it's nothing like San Francisco sourdough. I've tried to find that little taste of home out here in the vain hopes that I'll find a suitable substitute, but it's all just a joke. Whenever I'm at some place here that claims they sell "real" sourdough bread, and I see people falling for it, I want to rip the bread from their hands and lead them to Fisherman's Wharf like the pied piper. But instead of a flute, I will cart a giant oven behind me baking real sourdough bread.

Do Not Miss: If you drive for 6 hours, you're still in California for chrissakes. I really like that out here in 6 hours you could be in: Charlotte, Raleigh, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, NYC, Baltimore and any number of other somewhat less exciting locales, like Bumpass! In CA, you can drive for long stretches and still be in some really nice places, like Yosemite, Big Sur or even beautiful downtown Fresno, if you're lucky. But I like the idea of traveling to another state, another city with its own story and accent and regional food you can't get quite as good anywhere else.

Miss: Just so everything I miss isn't all about food, I really do miss other things, such as: having more than 5 totally awesome things you must see and/or do when you visit. Trish and Brian discovered just why I have so much time on my hands when they visited last week. Not only is SF the best city ever, but you've also got Napa and Monterey and Carmel and...

Miss: Bonus non-food item: Kepler's Books in Menlo Park. I always feel so guilty for not shopping at smaller, independent bookstores, but they don't have the selection of the bigger stores, and I don't really have the patience to wait until something comes in on order. Enter Kepler's. It could go head to head with any chain bookstore and totally kick ass. Plus, I always admired the Oxford English Dictionary set behind the registers and imagined that one day I'd own it. More books, less guilt, tastes great.

Do Not Miss: The $800,000 shack the Mr. and I would be living in if we moved there.

*Aside from family, friends, etc.