_by Lisa Sturm
Land of the free, home of the brave, in a plane I landed in California. The sun shines and the people have open minds. Long blond hair, beaches, surfers, free thinkers, California of the mind.
You are from Germany? Yes.
Where is your blond hair and blue eyes? What?
I thought Germans had blond hair and blue eyes? Some, I guess.
Well, you are on time, so that makes sense.
And then a Hitler joke here and there and a Nazi reference or two and California begins to look less like I thought. Shopping malls, fast food restaurants, chain stores and more chain stores, the California of my mind looks more like fantasy. The mall people begin to outnumber the rest, cardboard cutouts, walking hollow forms, this is California? I check my mind, my brain for what I know…I search and see on occasion, but most look like the way I imagine the rest of the USA.
Ok, ya, um, like. That sounds right. Hello, I am from Germany. An over-the-top Nein is the response. Or sometimes an ugly Ja. Some more Nazi jokes and questions of the past, it’s not easy being German. Expected efficient, reparations for the past, lederhosen, dirndls, beer drinking and pretzels, these are expected.
Ja, ok, nein, ach. That sounds right. Hey, I am from California. An over-the-top Dude is the response. Or sometimes a stoner Bro. Some more surfer jokes and questions of the beach, it’s not easy being Californian. Expected coolness, recollections of the 60s, swim shorts, surfboards, pot smoking and sushi, these are expected.
Bro. Ja. Smoke? Nein. Bier? Nah. Surf? Nein. Bretzel? Nah. Sushi? Nein?
Election day. George Bush will be gone but California never had him. Bush and California do not go together. The right does not exist here (in the back of my mind I forget that Schwarzenegger is a Republican). Proposition 8. The fight against gay-marriage, that cannot stand a chance in California. California is too open-minded, San Francisco gay-friendly, L.A. as well; this does not stand a chance. California would never take someone’s rights away. It can’t happen here, maybe in Texas, but not here.
Obama wins, gay-marriage loses. How can this happen in California?