Mixed feelings about going home for the Holidays

This is the second school year I have lived in Oregon. Last year I went to Oregon State University so I was in Corvallis and then I transfered to University of Oregon (I know - I'm a traitor) so I'm in Eugene this year. As a Feminist and Environmentalist (Eco-feminist!), living in Oregon, especially liberal Eugene has been a really eye-opening experience. I love how Oregonians fill up with pride from buying local products. It's easier to find little ma'n'pa shops, nightlife, political/academic debates and of course the awesome Saturday Market that represent the local culture and personality of the town. It's a lot easier for me to make more environmentally and socially responsible choices when I shop. I'm still trying to get used to the whole bicycling as transportation thing, but maybe I'll eventually buy myself my first bike without training wheels in the near future. I also love the climate. I hate the heat, and I kind of hate the sun too. It just makes me cranky.

So in about a week and a half I go back home for Winter Vacation. My hometown is a suburb in Orange County which compared to Eugene, OR is very boring and pretentious. I am looking forward to the month off school, seeing my friends and of course the Christmas feasts! But I'm not looking forward to Orange County, CA. My hometown (it's hardly a town) has no down-town and every destination is basically just a strip-mall or a larger outdoors mall and none of them are in walking/bicycling distance. And yes, the Public Transportation sucks - probably because of the lack of a downtown. So, I have to break my environmentalist habits and actually drive a car. It is a honda so I don't have to be so mad at myself but still - If I can walk or take public transportation I'd rather just do that. And even if it were responsible to go anywhere, everywhere is just more shopping or 12 dollar movies. To be frank, I'm bored of shopping. All the stores are big chain stores anyways. Whatever you find in my town, you can find in just about every other city or suburb. It's really difficult to find second-hand stores or stores that use fair-trade practices.
Orange County is a hotspot for upper-class white privilege - and there are a lot of Religious conservatives in the area too. So when I'm there, I'm considered this hardcore radical because I drive a Honda (anything less than a Mercedes or giant SUV is considered low-class or hippie), buy recycled clothing and I am a Women's Studies Major. When I go back to Oregon, I become fairly normal since almost everyone there is moderate to liberal. We don't even have a single bar. Sure we have bars inside of the Chili's, CheeseCake Factories and other chain restaurants, but no authentic pub-like places to listen to bar music and eat bar food. I think our suburb needs a bar to add some energy to the place. Unfortunately, every restaurant is "family-friendly." I don't know if I want to be around families that often.

What I'm trying to say is that it's difficult going between these two different sets of cultural values. Maybe I'll just knit and exercise furiously through out the holiday to keep from spending money at the plethora of Targets, Old Navys and Barns&Nobles. I already promised myself that this year, I'm going to make as many Christmas/Festivus/Solstice gifts as possible.

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Comment by Father Nature on December 4, 2008 at 9:15am
Having spent a lot of time in both OC and Eugene, I can vouch for everything above. I can't imagine two more different places. Eugene is one of those rare places where the best parts of the '60s counterculture have survived.

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