Ever since Floyd Landis won the Tour de France yesterday, I’ve been happy to see all the mentions of his current hometown of Murrieta, California in the press. During my senior year of high school in Orange County, CA, my parents bought a house in Murrieta and moved there back when there wasn’t a single traffic signal for miles. I eventually moved in and joined them for my first few years of college, spending most of my time working 2 jobs trying to pay for tuition.
It was an hour from everything, which made it the center of nothing. No one had ever heard of it. I had this set of rules in my head for answering the question of where I lived:
Where do you live?
– if the asker was from outside of California and beyond, I’d say “near San Diego” which usually did the trick. Even vacationing Germans have heard of San Diego.
– if the asker was from California, I’d say “near Riverside” since it was a major Inland Empire city that was about 25 miles north and was slightly more precise.
– if the asker was from Southern California, I’d say “Temecula” since that was the next town over and featured a big wine growing industry that people were familiar with and probably went tasting at.
– if the asker was from Riverside County, I’d say “Murrieta, near Temecula” and most would require further explanation and I’d have to say “Murrieta Hot Springs” which was an ancient resort there.
It gives me a little thrill every time I hear “Murrieta” on TV or in a major news story since it’s clear from my experiences that no one aside from nearby residents has ever heard of it. The funny thing is I currently live about an hour from Portland, an hour from the Pacific Ocean, in a small suburb town no one has ever heard of and I have to go through the same process to answer the question.