April 1, 1999

Views From Metropolis

1999

Wendy M. Pfeiffer

Part 14 in a Series

Perspective: Its all about what you're used to.

I've been so cold the past few months. Ever since Winter hit, I've been
bundling up in the cold evenings, wearing sweaters and coats to work in the
mornings. I'm sick of the Winter wool suits, the heavier pants and the dry,
heated air. Sounds like Winter everywhere, right?

But this is LA Winter.

Most days , the highs are in the 60's and 70's. The lowest evening
temperature all Winter at my house was 48 degrees. Yet I'm wearing my Winter
wool suits each day and my cross-country ski jackets and gloves to walk on the
beach in the afternoons. My blood has thinned. My skin has tanned. My pace
has slowed.

A year ago, when I first came to this Metropolis, everything seemed so
strange. That first Winter, I wore my summer wardrobe and only took a sweater
once! Everything was so hot and humid! I knew that it would just be a matter
of time before my perspective changed forever. Now, I'm no longer able to tell
myself that it's a nice day when the temperatures only get into the 60's.

Perspective: It doesn't seem to work in reverse.

I've been living in apartments and condos for the past 15 years. In fact,
on average, I've moved once a year for the past 15 years. Always, I was in one
stage or another of preparation, saving, learning, building, working toward the
day when I'd "settle down". There was the life's partner to find, the college
education to complete, the career to build, the bills to pay off, the money to
save, the adventure to seek.

Now, I've got it all: my soulmate, my home, my career. I've got the
passport full of stamps, the resume full of accomplishments, and a heart full of
love and contentment. Its more and better than I ever imagined. Its all I
wanted and more. Its all set now. I'm settled.

Perspective: I don't know what to do about it.

What do I do with all of this energy and angst now? How do I get used to
this? Do they issue new goals at this stage? Does the fire inside dull to
embers? Is THIS why people have children? Its been a long time, and I'm not
getting used to it. My heart stops every time a bill comes. Its hard to
remember that our finances are solid. I worry each time my boss schedules a new
meeting. Maybe I'm going to be fired! I'm afraid to pull out the ugly tree in
my front yard because "the owners" planted it. I don't think they'd be very
happy if I pulled out their tree. I can't even leave the house messy, for fear
that......actually, I don't know why! And every now and then, when my husband
says, "Honey, I have to tell you something", I panic. Maybe THIS is when he'll
reveal the fatal flaw!

Perspective: I've still got it, right?

To me, LA is still the antithesis of Silicon Valley. You see, people are
settled here. They have time to talk, to laugh, to play. People listen.
People care. In the grocery store or the lunch room, people stop and interact.
There are wider margins here. If I mess up, or get lost, or make a mistake, I'm
given some slack.

The problem is, I can't get used to it. I'm afraid that if I give in, I'll
get soft. It took so long to build the callouses. I can pack up and move
faster than anyone I know. I can stay later than anyone and work harder than my
boss. I drive faster. I laugh louder, and at more subtle humor. I can live
alone. These were hard skills to acquire, and now they're slipping away. I'm
losing my perspective.

At least, that's the view from here.


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