THE BLOG

Seasonal Affective Disorder? Not in Sunny SoCal!

02/08/2011 08:01 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I see from the postings of my Facebook Friends around the country that this is a bad winter for most of you. Many of you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the apt acronym SAD, otherwise known as the Winter Blues. This terrible disease is not a problem where I live in Los Angeles, but I do recall the symptoms from my Pre-Cal days. Though I am not native to L.A., my 20 years here is considered by most to qualify me as a Local SoCal Gal. Our population here skews toward the newly arrived. SoCal is a balmy beacon to immigrants fleeing poor weather around the globe. Legend has it that most of us arrive after watching the Rose Bowl at New Year's and realizing that it is 75 degrees above zero in Pasadena, not 75 below like it is in Wisconsin or the other climate challenged states.

Some say we SoCal folks don't like the seasons, but that isn't true. We like three out of four and we visit winter in other places when we feel like it. Some say we have an endless summer here, but that isn't true either. We have subtle seasonal changes. Winter can be wet, but it's rarely cold. There are many good days to be had at the beach while the rest of the country suffers, and we can see the snow capped San Gabriel mountains behind the skyscrapers downtown and within driving distance should we want to ski or snow board. Spring begins early, especially if there was good rainfall, and the whole city smells of mock orange blossoms and jasmine. Summer is long and dry and there is often a 30-degree difference between the beach communities and those inland. The fog at the beach (June Gloom) burns off at noon. Fall brings a few new colors to the oaks and maples, but not the palm trees. Fall fashions don't really apply in SoCal. Save those for the "cold" days in winter.

Like many of my friends, I am the first in my family to make the move to the Best Coast. I believe my family is slowly evolving toward wearing less protective clothing. My ancestors come from Russia and Norway. They settled in Chicago and Northern Wisconsin. My parents made it to Tennessee, thinking that was the Promised Land because it was spring while the North was still under blankets of snow. Thankfully, I made it to the land of milk and sunny. The only other region I would consider is the Hawaiian Islands.

I'll admit that the rest of the country has its attractions. NYC has us beat on manic energy -- so if you like to hear cabs all night on the streets below your closed windows -- that's your city. I like to hear the ocean, and I leave my windows open. The South has better food, but you are pretty much doomed to get fat. That is not allowed where it is always bathing suit season. If you are like me, you might ask why wouldn't everyone move to SoCal? After much thought, I have come up with a few reasons:

  1. Amnesia: Citizens of Winter States are held hostage by frozen roads and closed airports until late spring when they begin to forget about the horrors of winter in their great appreciation for the sun, like women forget the pain of childbirth upon seeing their baby.
  2. Fear of Getting Soft: This is a country built by Puritans with a strong need to suffer in order to earn salvation. Garrison Keillor told of an old couple that left Lake Wobegone to retire in Florida. Lest any other good Lutherans get that idea, this was a cautionary tale. Soon the old couple was playing cards naked and having one continuous happy hour. Naturally, they were punished for their sins. They were bitten in their beds by poisonous snakes that are never seen in Minnesota. They died. Apocryphal tale to be sure, but in it lies a seed of true belief for many that suffering is good for the soul, and there is not enough suffering without a real winter.
  3. Housing Prices: Unless you bought a first house here when you were young and traded up over the years as property values skyrocketed, it can be really hard to enter the SoCal housing market later in life, especially if you currently live in a place where a couple hundred thousand can buy the Governor's mansion and you are accustomed to having acreage.

So, you may not be ready or able to make the move to SoCal and banish the winter blues forever. You could settle for some inland California respite from the cold like Solvang, a nice Danish town in the Santa Ynez Valley. Maybe it will be the next generation of your family that escapes winter. Just watch the Rose Parade every New Year's with your children or grandchildren and inspire them to migrate to a sunnier and happier place. They will surely let you visit.