Orange County, California is not like other places. OC has a persona all its own and it is evident as you scan the OC landscape – particularly the more affluent communities in OC. There is a vibe that is felt in these communities…an energy that was purposefully created and that is wholeheartedly embraced as the OC way of life.
It is first apparent when you arrive at the John Wayne Airport. The airport layout is clean and simplistic, but still fluid and chic – it has an OC air to it of understanding exactly how fabulous it is without having to be overly flashy about it – it is what I call “OC smooth”.
The women’s restroom in the airport carries the same smooth feel while illustrating a truism about OC in that it possesses the largest quantity and size of mirrored surfaces I have ever seen in an airport restroom. There are more than a half-dozen opportunities to check your look from every angle before exiting the restroom. Looks and “the look” matter in OC.
The OC smooth feel of the airport is captured in the airport traffic design as well. Cars swoop in and out like a well-played symphony to pick up their arriving guests. The flow is kept going by well-placed sheriff officers who allow no mindless lingering – swoop in, swoop out and keep the traffic flowing – keep it smooth.
That is the OC mode – it is very intently designed that way - be smooth and allow for the flow – that is what the achievers in OC want. They work hard and play hard, but they want their transitions to be smooth. You can see OC smooth in the way the communities are designed, many smaller shopping center developments nested into residential areas to make access easier, quicker, smoother. A lot of effort has been invested in creating and reinforcing OC’s smooth. Everything is designed to feel easy, clean and fresh…everything adds to the overall feel – from the width of the roads, to the sidewalk design, to the street lights.
The reality of living in OC is that it is, on-the-whole, quite expensive – smooth has a cost. Those who live here work hard to be able to play hard – so smooth becomes an expectation. But for the casual visitor it all seems so easy, so intuitive and so appealing. I spent some time living in OC before I moved to North Dakota so I know the ins and outs of OC smooth, but each time I revisit the area I still marvel at it. I can see why so many folks unfamiliar with the realities of living here want to move here having gotten a taste of OC smooth - I can’t deny that it is fabulous. There is a reason that the Magic Kingdom is in OC – it fits here.
I enjoy visiting OC and taking in all the efforts that go into its smooth. It reminds me of the choices we have to make in life. 14 years ago I made a choice to leave the smooth of OC for life in North Dakota and I can say unequivocally it was the best decision I have ever made. I have not looked back…well, not until I passed all those mirrored surfaces in the airport restroom in OC…but even then I realized that some things I can live happily without and my junk in the trunk from every angle is definitely one of them.
Day seven hundred and sixty-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da