Southern Californians, I Feel Bad for You




Story by Maddie Russo

Your hometown is probably nice. But mine is better.

Sandpoint, Idaho. Population 7,577. That’s less than Chapman.

When somebody asks me where I’m from with a bright face and anticipating ears, their expression rapidly dulls when I answer, “Idaho.” Some people instantly judge, labeling me as a boring potato farmer (I’m not kidding) and even express looks of sadness, as if they feel bad for me.

Well I have news for you. If you’ve only ever lived in Southern California, I feel bad for YOU. 

I feel bad for you because you don’t know what it’s like to live day-in-and-day-out waking up and breathing in fresh mountain air to start your day. Smog is not a thing where I’m from. 

I feel bad for you because a lot of your surroundings are dry, flat and brown instead of lush, mountains and evergreens.

I feel bad for you because when it comes summertime, oh wait…it’s always sunny. I feel bad for you because it’s almost always sunny, and in that case…

I feel bad for you because you most likely haven’t spent the entire month of December celebrating a white Christmas. With the deafening silence that the first snowfall brings, the Christmas lights peeping through the white fluff and casting sparkling flashes of light everywhere you turn, Christmas takes on a whole new meaning.

People find it cliche when I complain about missing fall, I feel bad for you because you think that.   

To be honest, fall is my favorite time of year because its 55 and sunny out. Everyone is dressed warmly with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee in their hands while they take in the colorful surroundings of yellow, orange and purple trees on the outskirts of the football field. Everyone is cheering on the home team in that happiest of spirits because we have finally caught a break from the hot summer days.

Speaking of which, our summers ROCK. Our days consist of partaking in numerous water activities on the 45 mile lake surrounding our town. Tanning, jet skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, laying on beaches, we have all that too. Going to dinner, we prefer to take the boat. Our campfires can’t be beat because the looming scent of pine trees never leaves our noses. It’s that much more special because we only get 4 months of this, once again, summer takes on a whole new meaning.

Fourth of Julys in Sandpoint are unforgettable. The top off the Jeep, music blaring out the windows. We’re on our way to jump in the boat. Going to chase firework shows that will launch over the water and situate ourselves perfectly underneath, is what it’s all about.

Small town feelings. The sense of community is unreal. I’m not going to lie, if you don’t ski or play sports, there isn’t much to do in the winter. But that is what brings us closer, everyone helps anyone. Our fall football games are sold out, every week the stands are full of spirited townspeople and EVERY highschooler, weather they know someone on the team or not, dressed head to toe in red and white to cheer on the Sandpoint Bulldogs.

I just feel bad because you have no idea what all this is exactly like.

In fact, I feel so bad for you that the next time I’m floating down the natural river running on the outskirts of town, with a bunch of friends, I’ll think of you pulling knives out of the sand at Huntington Beach. (That happened to me twice by the way.)

I feel so bad for you that the next time I’m watching the fireworks launch over our fresh water lake, I’ll think of all the restrictions you have on fireworks and how you’re probably watching a sparkler sizzle to nothing but a heap of disappointment.

I feel so bad that the next time I’m walking outside dressed in warm clothes, the sun pleasantly shining down, 55 degree October air, trees changing colors around me, and eating a fresh baked pastry from our Mom and Pop shop, I’ll think of you chomping on a piece of Kale, trying to keep that bikini body, sweltering in the 100 degree October weather.

I know, everyone’s perception of beauty is different, but I’m just saying, it’s time to quit the sad face when you meet someone from outside your bubble. We live in a pretty amazing world and California is only a small part of it.

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