I was walking down the street in San Jose with a buddy of mine from Denver and we came to a random crosswalk in the middle of a very busy street. “Watch this” I told him as I stepped into a busy street with cars traveling at speeds of 45 miles per hour, there was no traffic light around. He looked at me like I was crazy and suddenly, the second I inched out into the crosswalk, all of the cars stopped. No one honked, no one gave us angry scowls, no threatened to run us down, no one gave us the finger.
Northern California is a cyclist and pedestrian paradise. Run through a cross walk and people on the street and in cars give you dirty looks. I had my car slapped by a pedestrian in Mountain View because I took a right when he was not finished walking through the crosswalk. Cyclist can legally take up a full lane of traffic and they do this pretty frequently. Major intersections with left hand turning lanes are sometimes filled with folks on bikes commuting to work. When I work in the mornings, I always see loads of folks commuting to work on bikes and this is in the middle of suburbia, this is 40 miles south of San Francisco in what locals call the South Bay and Lower Peninsula.
Even pedestrians obey the law, forget about jay walking, numerous times I have stood at a crosswalk late at night with a bunch of people who refuse to move off the sidewalk until the walk signal comes on. It’s 2 in the morning and there are no cars, but still they wait, no one is in a rush here everyone seems very stress free.
It all drives me nuts actually and I miss rudeness of New York. I miss the honking, the random lane changes, the cabbies, the SUV’s driven by screaming women and the potholes, bumps and bike messengers weaving through traffic. I drive a lot so naturally one of the things I miss about New York is the driving. No, I don’t miss the traffic at all. One of my favorite things about the Bay Area is the lack of traffic, rush hour here is nothing. You will never get stuck in traffic unless it’s rush hour or some sort of event or accident and rarely at times when people aren’t on the road. In New York you can be stuck at any time of the day, driving here may be too stress free.
The other surprising thing I miss is Jews. There I said it, I miss Jews and specifically, I miss orthodox Jews. Real orthodox Jews, I miss Chassidim and Yeshivish people, of which we really don’t have any here. Even though I have lived in other small Jewish communities, they have all been accessible to large Jewish communities. Albany was only 150 miles from New York and Rochester was 175 miles from Toronto. But the Bay Area is over 400 miles to Los Angeles and I miss normal Jewish communities.
I never thought I would miss frum Jews, it’s one of those things I always wanted to get away from. But I guess living so far away from any large Jewish community has given me the itch to see regular old black hat wearing folks doing their daily business. I never see Jews here, unless it involves going to a restaurant or to shul and that kind of blows.
I miss pizza, I really miss pizza. I met some folks in Oakland that do these restaurant runs to LA, where they all get in a car on Saturday night and drive back the next night. 800 miles for some kosher food is pretty extreme, but I can relate a bit, I plan on hitting LA for a shabbos one of these days and already feel like I should hit up one of their yeshivas for the high holidays.
I miss my friends, unlike most people, I just leave places. I have loads of friends that probably still think I live in New York. I didn’t leave with any fanfare and in all honesty I thought I would be back by now, although I have wanted to live in the west all of my adult life, it’s really a dream come true. I miss my father, good thing my brother also lives in the west. Friends and family can have a stronger pull than I thought, although I think it’s mostly because I don’t have a chevra yet. I have met some awesome peeps, but I have discovered that most of my friends are shabbos friends, haven’t met any cycling or hiking partners yet.
Wow, I thought I missed more things, but I really don’t and most of the things I miss could be had in other cities like Detroit or Baltimore.