This post is not actually about The OC. But, The OC did inspire this post. Because in The OC -- which is a TV show, in case you didn't know -- the main character comes from Chino. I have never been to Chino; but, as it is portrayed in the show, it is exactly like my hometown: Redwood City, CA.
I grew up in Redwood City, as did my husband. We lived there for the first 9 years of our marriage. Our 3 kids were born there.
There are wealthy areas in Redwood City, and there are areas which are like Chino in The OC. My young little family lived in one of these not-so-wealthy areas. And it was the BEST thing we could have done for ourselves and our kids.
I am now going to speak of our lifestyle choices. Don't feel judged if they are not yours.
Upon marrying, we wanted to have kids right away. Hubby was 26 and I was 24. He was an engineer and I was a teacher. We both aspired to have me stay home with the babies, so we chose to live in a poorer area of town where we could afford a house. Thus, we moved into a 900 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bath house that glowed with an eerie orange light when the sun shone through the windows. This visual effect was caused by the orange and gold, early 1970's era, carpet, paint, and draperies.There was a drug-dealer living next door, but he was the friendly type. And we really didn't mind his parties, which lasted from sundown on Thursday nights to sundown on Sunday nights. But, only during warm weather.
This is the thing, though. Most of the people in that neighborhood were the best kind of people. Unspoiled, hard-working, generous, kind. Nobody had any extra money, so there were picnics in the park and frozen treats from the ice cream truck (on the days when there was a little extra cash). Such
fun birthday parties there were for the kids, with wading pools, squirt guns, hot dogs, and cake from the super market. No one could afford a bouncy house or a rented cartoon character. The kids
themselves were the Power Rangers, and they did it better than any paid adults could have. There were no fancy pre-schools, but the recreation center down the street offered some lovely children's activities for a reasonable price; and I met some awesome friends there. Oh, and the park. A lot of us Redwood City mamas would bring our kids there each and every morning. Not an official play group, but maybe better. No stress. No official duties. Just playing. And visiting. No gossip, either. Life was too basic to offer any fertile ground for gossip-worthy topics.
So, when I watched The OC today with my oldest daughter, and the setting was Theresa's engagement party in the family backyard in Chino -- complete with ice chests containing bottles of beer, sodas, tables with food under (very informal) tents, homemade flower arrangements, cinder block walls separating the neighbors' yards, well-worn paint on the house, old cars lining the streets -- well, it just brought me back. And I'm glad my kids spent most of their years as little children in a place like that. It gives them some perspective. If your furniture doesn't match, but you have a burger and a beer, well -- you are blessed.