Looking back to mid-2004, when I decamped from the East to Silicon Valley, it occurs to me that there are a lot of things that have become pivotal in my existence that weren’t there before. Such as…
* Never mind the Freestyle machine – Coke Zero didn’t exist when I was in DC. It has become damn near my only purchased soda option these days.
* Apple was still on PowerPC processors – the 12″ PowerBook G4 was the most desirable of all Macs. There were no Intel machines, there was certainly no Air, and the entire world of iOS was a distant dream. My Sony Ericsson P800 was the smartest phone out there, and I sold it within a couple months of reaching the Valley.
* I was cognizant of Vanderbilt athletics, but tying myself too closely to the Commodores felt awkward and inappropriate under the circumstances. If I had an affiliation with college athletics at all, it was still the undergrad team, with their World Series win in their last season of NAIA baseball and the move of basketball into the Division I ranks. My one trip out to a viewing party was for the Winthrop match in 2003-04, if I remember right – then came the Great Sandbagging and the dissociation.
* Come to think of it, the alienation from Vanderbilt only began to give way at Christmas of 2003, when the future wife and I made an overnight trip to Nashville – stayed at the Opryland Hotel, breakfast at the Loveless, book shopping at Davis-Kidd, and a whole lot of walking around campus before the bookstore in Rand was remodeled and before the Commons destroyed what used to be my old apartment at Garrison. Then three months later the basketball teams both roared to the Sweet 16, and the seeds were sewn for me to come back to the Dores in a big way.
* For all my impressively-growing collection of Dr Martens, I didn’t own a single pair of steel-toes. The count would eventually reach 5 pair in California by 2007.
* This very blog didn’t start until autumn 2006, two years into the California adventure. Actually, come to think of it, I had yet to visit Disney California Adventure.
* No HD television or satellite radio. The XM would come into play a month before leaving DC, and the HD wouldn’t kick in until 2008.
* The Hawaiian shirts largely went in the closet when I left DC, and the black polo shirt count was halved.
* Coffee wasn’t a daily necessity in DC. It was a rarity, made notable by the fact that it seemed to have a mildly civilizing effect on me – but if I needed caffeine in DC, it meant Dr Pepper or Coke. The rise of the dark stuff came during the Apple years, to the point where the lack of it at NASA was a huge factor in the unpleasantness around that year-and-change.
* The hair was cut for good a year after leaving DC.
* The polarized-amber shades only came on after the bachelor party, which while taking place in Atlantic City was actually eight months into my life in California. Even now, I still instinctively want to go for the high-contrast lenses…
* No Twitter. Hell, no Facebook, no Tumblr, no YouTube, and while RSS readers and Wikipedia existed, I hadn’t yet made use of them, let alone made them essential functions of my phone. Hell, Gmail didn’t exist until three months before I left town; I was still wary of not having shell access to my email. Now, things like pine and Webmail are far less important than reliable access over iPhone.
In short, a lot of little things – but they add up to a non-trivial transformation in how I live my life now. And drive home the point that I really have been here longer than I was in DC.