Within Stoddard’s “An Age of Limits and Definitions”, she explains that after college and sheltered living, not everything is as good as it seemed. She was hard pressed to find any decent apartment to reside in, some having structural damage, or just had bad aesthetic value. (Stoddard, 46) She would pass up apartments based on the people living around them, and other tenants, or because it resided in a bad part of town. She realized that the California ideal was not her Californian reality.
After fruitless searching, she wound up in a quaint neighborhood that reminded her of her own childhood community. This neighborhood was to her the representation of the California dream, with “quaint bungalows, mowed lawns, palms, and picket fences. “ (Stoddard, 47) However, she could not find a place to live within this community, and she realized that living in areas such as this are only part of a California dream unattainable by people motivated by dreams and hopes. (Stoddard, 47)
People come to California looking for a better life as Stoddard points out, but it is hard to get, and those that were there before the people coming in feel the need to leave and start a new community, a new dream untainted by new ideas and ways. (Stoddard, 47) “We form exclusive communities, without looking back, hoping never to catch a glimpse of the reality that would require us to see these communities as the anachronism that they are rapidly becoming.” (Stoddard, 47)
People in their sheltered communities do not see the way things really are, apart from the dreams they have about how it should be, as Stoddard points out, “The reality of California is what we try to escape. That escape is what keeps the California ideal from becoming reality.” (Stoddard, 47)
What defines California is a resilience that allows people to adapt and roll with the punches we are dealt. (Stoddard 76) Stoddard points out that being young and looking for a house seems wonderful to others, a time of limitless possibilities, when in fact it is a time of awakening, where one sets for themselves limits and definitions for life in itself. “While many people see mine as an age of limitless options, it is also a time in which seeking limits and definitions is the most important option.” (Stoddard, 47)
I believe that Stoddard has a very realistic view of California, how we try to keep it alive with gated communities, private clubs, etc, when the reality is right at our doorstep. Just look for homes or a place to live, as I have, and you will know that it is very hard to find something that even remotely resembles the community you were raised. People must settle for apartments in horrible condition, bad neighborhoods, and bad people. People can’t afford the California dream, and so must settle for the California reality.
All references taken from “An Age of Limits and Definitions” – Stoddard in Ca Dreams and Realities 2nd ed. by Maasik & Solomon