Whenever I’m not wasting time envisaging an exciting life in New York, I spend my days imagining a boho life in California. As you will have guessed, much of this escapism is the direct result of consuming lots of lifestyle- and women’s magazines. Their job is to sell dreams and I am a hapless fool as far as their features covering fantasy-lives residing on the secluded beaches of San Francisco are concerned. If I were to summarise these articles about fabulous Californian lifestyles in one word, it would be simple.
The women introduced in these articles live in huge homes where everything is white. They keep no stuff in their houses, except for myriads of artfully arranged trendy plants in front of unrealistically huge windows, and possibly a designer lamp, also white. They are dressed, from head to toe, in stylish white linen outfits. Everything is white, except possibly a tiny delicate gold bangle with a Buddhist symbol adorning their wrists (stacks of bangles? So East-Coast).
Everybody is vegan, spiritual, outdoorsy, well-read, wealthy, well-connected, content, collected, democrat, clear-skinned and leads an impossibly unattainable life. Everything is colour-coordinated (no synthetics, patterns or loud colours. They spice things up by mixing white with creamand sometimes beige).
Everything is simple.
While I cannot completely copy this lifestyle simply because I reside in Belgium and also because I sometimes have to eat (you cannot eat if everything around you and everything you wear is white, that’s for sure), I figured there must be elements that can be introduced to one’s life to make it simpler.
Amount of stuff
Marie Kondo told us to chuck away lots of stuff and then fold whatever remains left into complicated bundles in one’s sock drawer. This resonates with me because I suffer from an extreme case of stuffocation, which in turn is in stark contradiction with my habit of collecting books and hoarding magazines. I’m very good with everything else, though. As regards clothes, it’s a (fairly) strict one in, one out- policy.
Everybody in California seems to be permanently larking about/working out in a park/on a beach. I don’t really do either, and Belgian weather is not exactly encouraging for spending time outdoors. I don’t mind walking, though, so I took up walks in a nearby park a couple of months ago. While I’m at it, I listen to podcasts. If I’m feeling particularly Californian and want my chakras massaged while I exercise, I choose Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday or something from Goop. Unstyled by Refinery29 also have good talks, but they have been on a break for months now.
As Ruth Bader Ginsburg says, once the pendulum goes very far in one direction, it will eventually return. I might have reached the personal culmination point when I was using the Korean toner that requires 7 applications. It stressed me out. As if by sign sent by the Californian spiritual gods and goddesses, most of my favourite skincare brands happen to be Californian (Odacité, May Lindstrom, Vintner’s Daughter). I take this to mean I’m OK to tone down the number of various steps in my routine (not skipping double-cleansing, though, like, ever. I’m never in such rush) without upsetting the world of skincare.
I picked three very Californian books that will give anyone the necessary cali-vibes. The White Album by Joan Didion is an obvious classic, as is Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz. Also The Girls by Emma Cline is quintessentially Californian with its Manson family context.
Doing away with plastic bottles
California is quite progressive as far as environmental issues are concerned. While the plastic bottle situation is strictly speaking not a novelty anywhere in the world anymore, I will have to get to grips with it now, finally. I’m horrible at buying bottled water for office. Has to stop.
So here. I’m starting with these and will evaluate at some point whether I should amp up my game by starting a cali-diet of dust and water. Also as soon as Brussels-weather remembers it’s not in Los Angeles and changes to its miserable usual self, I might find myself tossing away the crystals and seeking refuge in Paris lifestyle ie. sulking at a bistro with a glass of red and a cigarette.