I know, gag me with a spoon. The term is almost as played out as the lifestyle. I go through my days with my iPhone figuratively glued to my hand, spend my mornings jogging my “miniature” dog (granted, she’s a beagle and therefore less glamorous), and care a bit too deeply about my skin’s complexion. I routinely spend more money than I have to spare on things that I don’t necessarily need, have a penchant for dressing myself with as little effort as possible while using that one nice accessory to make the outfit look expensive, and accidentally spot quite a few celebrities in the places I shop/work. Where I live, the world runs on the three “C”s: cars, coffee and cash (or credit cards). I’d like to call it the Wild West, but the guns and cowboy boots are worn by the people in the city next door. In my neighborhood, we wear designer sneakers and carry pink tasers — ya know, for the peace of mind, and without the worry of ever really having to use them.
EVERYTHING has to be pink.
Okay, truth time: I don’t actually fall into the Real Valley Girl category. My family is lower-middle class, bordering on poor white trash. I live in a nice neighborhood, but in the worst-maintained home on the street. I got my degree from a community college, I pay rent to my own father, and while I do own a “luxury car,” it’s practically as old as I am and is definitely on its last legs. Any stares I get when I walk into a room are usually because I am a very heavy gal, with facial piercings and intrusively large breasts. When I walk down the street with my boyfriend — an intimidating, tall Mexican dude with hella tats — people often look like they’re questioning whether we live there or are just planning a B&E. Anything expensive that I own, I either saved up for, or already had before the economy went into major decline. I guess you could say we’re a bit out of place, and that would be the nice way of putting it.
(Pictured: The type of shambles our house is not long in reaching)
There are many changes I’ve noticed in the last few years in this place. And it could be from me getting older, or more cynical, or simply from being more aware of my surroundings. People are becoming more closed off; angry; simultaneously self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating. Places I remember from my childhood are long closed down and bulldozed to make way for gentrified shopping centers, which in turn are causing the old “new” shopping centers to close down and become bulldozed. Everything’s more expensive, so much more expensive, and yet the shiny newness of these cars and houses and phones and jewelry cannot mask the dulling of emotions; the dulling of reality as people shift more and more into this idealistic version of themselves. The version of themselves that is proven through the value of their material possessions. These possessions scream, “Look at me! I am important! Notice me and my amazing life!” and yet they cannot quell the obvious existential crisis that is looming beneath the polished surface. The people here are like their own avatars: experiencing the world through a manufactured version of their personhood. Like playing pretend, on a mass scale. Like an unstated contractual agreement to believe in the façade of the other people around them, if you accept theirs. And while I feel from time to time that I am getting sucked into the void of mass pretend, I also rest easy in the confidence that I will only ever test the waters. I’ve never had my façade accepted by society, and therefore have no reason to put one forth. It’s like other Valley girls can sense the resentment of this culture in others, and are able to pre-emptively reject these players before they reach the grand stage. Though I feel, in a way, that these Real Valley girls are experiencing some resentment of their own; the cognitive dissonance of living a life that revolves around chasing material and superficial happiness that cannot be carried over in death. We are all a bit guilty of this, however. It’s not even necessarily a racial or class thing, or even a generational thing. More of a “constantly aware of the shittiness this world has to offer, and therefore I am more interested in losing myself in a Netflix binge or spur-of-the-moment mani/pedi” thing.
I must say, this does take my mind off the existential night terrors.
Except life has its shitty aspects everywhere, and people can be assholes anywhere. So why am I so resentful of the Valley girl lifestyle that I’ve inevitably found myself almost inextricably entwined?
You see, I grew up back and forth between this place and Ventura County. They say that home is where the heart is — so while my house is in the Valley, my heart and soul and friends and family and (hopefully) future domicile is in Ventura. I long to bury my toes in the sand on a weekday with nary another soul around, spark a doob and listen to some classic rock while the sun sets. I yearn for wide, sprawling fields of strawberries and orange orchards, separating the relaxed and refined beachside towns; where even the nicest gated communities can mingle effortlessly among the slums and still be peaceful. Even the most stuck-up Ventura assholes are not nearly as insufferable as an average stuck-up Valley asshole (and believe me, I have worked retail in both places). You can drive your crappy car 55 mph on the highway and not be ruthlessly tailgated the whole time, and people actually STOP AT RED LIGHTS. The weather is nicer, the vibe is way more laid-back, and when I’m there I don’t constantly feel like I have to prove myself to others or present a false reality of who I am.
"We are okay with being this diverse AND in close proximity!"
Perhaps I’m just viewing the VC lifestyle with rose-colored glasses. After all, sure it’s nice to visit, but I haven’t lived there in about 6 years. I’m sure there’s a lot I’ve missed. I’m even sure that the Valley Girl lifestyle has probably taken over a good portion of the youth there. It’s possible that I’m just completely out of touch with society and none of this makes any sense. All I know is that, as a broke, overweight and awkwardly demi-goth twenty-something year old college girl, I’m quickly outgrowing the shallow veneer of the Valley Girl life. I’m ready to come home.