NPR logo Lorraine DeLuca Placido's California Dream

What's Your CA Dream?

Lorraine DeLuca Placido's California Dream

the easy life in CA
photo by Lorraine DeLuca Placido

Over the last several weeks, we've asked Day to Day listeners to share their vision of the California Dream. Fame, health, satisfaction, blue sky or innovation—what defines your California Dream? Is the economy forcing that dream to change?

We'll be sharing your responses both on-air and here on Daydreaming. In this installment, Lorraine DeLuca Placido remembers a dream of California that started with a floral peasant dress. I dreamt of wearing it on the balcony of a home that overlooked a beach where surfers sat around lazily swapping stories, waiting for waves. I was ten when I had the dream, it was 1970 and California was the place to be.

My California Dream started with a floral peasant dress. I dreamt of wearing it on the balcony of a home that overlooked a beach where surfers sat around lazily swapping stories, waiting for waves. I was ten when I had the dream, it was 1970 and California was the place to be. In my daydream my hair was blond from the sun, a physical impossibility that didn't matter at the time. I would graduate from high school and become that person.

Dreams and destiny didn't collide, though, and I remained an East Coast girl long into adulthood. I eventually gave up the California dream, preferring the sophisticated lifestyle only the Northeast could offer. Until last summer. I was scheduled for a business meeting in Newport Beach, California and only briefly thought of my long-ago romantic notions of California. Hopefully it would be a quick trip and I'd be home in time to get to the Jersey shore by Friday night. The taxi from the airport delivered me to the wrong hotel and the driver who arrived to bring me to the correct hotel was full of apologies and discounts.

Okay, I thought, they seem a little nicer than Philly cabdrivers. Later, I rented a car and drove along the Pacific highway searching for a decent restaurant when I came upon a small sushi place. Crowded with locals, I enjoyed one of the best meals at a reasonable price in the company of friendly strangers. The second evening I stopped at a surf shop to buy a t-shirt to bring home to my teenage son. The store was closed. The sign in the window read "Hours: 10-7 on nice days, a little less on the others and on weekends". Okay, I thought, something is different here and I delayed my return trip in order to spend a weekend night in town. I was treated to a Mariachi band contest at The Mission of San Juan, Capistrano. A Santa Claus convention on Balboa Island. I fell in love with a woman's bike that I see on the ferry: A beach cruiser with long streamers, daisy "flower power" seat and a giant basket on front. The lady riding it was much older than me but not even a little self-conscious. Standing there, I started to remember why I wanted to live here when I was ten.

And then I came home, back to Philadelphia where I have been California Dreamin' all year since. Trying to figure out how to make my California Dream my reality.

If you'd like to share your California Dream, use the contact page provided here.



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I am a Californian. A true native. I have traveled extensively all over the world and lived overseas for two years as a kid and two years as an adult in Seattle. My husband always wants to move...he has travled and lived all over the U.S. and is not a native. I hope he doesn't get his wish...I'll miss him! :)(Just kidding Honey!)

Why do I love it??? It's the weather, the variety, the people...the divesity...You can find sophistication in San Franscisco (no not in the Haight, but Pacific Heights maybe). You can be laid back almost anywhere else!! And, there's everything else in between. We have our mountains, our deserts, our farm country, our vineyards...I can get to any of these places within two hours. We surf, we ski, we hike, we bike...While I am blonde, I am not typical...In fact I am a minority as a caucasion, not only in my state, but my family as well! I love it!!! We are from everywhere, but we all belong here!

I remember years ago in Europe meeting a young woman who was a recent college grad like me who said nothing important happens west of the Missisppi...

That kind of thinking is just okay with me...I can accept that. I can respect that. I have the California spirit! Peace out!

Sent by Kristine Jaekel Wilfong | 4:17 PM | 7-9-2008

I grew up in Italy and my ideas and views of California were furnished via 12" black and white tv. Whatching and falling in love with Marsha Brady were my California dreams. Fate would have it that I settled in the same Northeast that you grew up in. My dream was to visit California on a cross country car ride. About 10 years ago I visited an area of California that I would consider Italy's twin, it even had an area that the locals called " Spaghetti Hill". It is the only region of the US in which I have felt like I was back home....the only difference is that Marsha wasn't there.

Sent by caesar caramanico | 9:38 PM | 7-9-2008