Boston, California, and parts in between. @ 11:27 pm
I had visited Boston in the summer of '92, and I liked it whilst visiting; previously my family had gone on vacation in Cape Cod where my Dad's former boss lived and that too was quite pleasant. I had just gotten kicked out of UIC for awful grades, but Northeastern was willing to take me in, and I knew one or two people out there from IRC, so off I went.
Before moving out to Boston, I hadn't realized how parochial the city was and just how dominated it is by the universities and factionalism therein. Northeastern was definitely one of the lower-tier schools but also had the additional disadvantage of half the student body going out on co-op assignments for half the year so there was massive amount of student churn. I'm pretty awful at meeting new people, and so betwixt being massively introverted and having a non-constant population, I didn't meet any people at NEU I connected with at all.
I got involved with the SCA because I had thought they might be amusing and they were fairly eager to embrace newcomers; however, there was an amazing amount of inbred Drama and geeky one-upsmanship. I was rebounding at the time from my first breakup, though, so I was happy for any company I could find, dramatic or not.
While the SCA may have been an extreme example of this, I found the same sorts of things to be true from a larger perspective. I grew up in the Midwest, and the East Coast just does things differently. Things are much much cliquier out East, and far less willing to absorb new people. I only made two real friends out there - Kibo and Noah Friedman. I don't know if I just wasn't looking in the right places for people, or what - but I just found the attitudes and social structure unfathomable or uninteresting or both.
I decided to leave Boston because the girlfriend I had moved in with - I had forgotten to renew my dorm contract and there was no space left (oops) - was pysko [sic] and emotionally wounded me quite a bit (and made me actively suicidal once). I decided that between her, not being able to effectively move out, and my inability to Deal with the city in general, it was time to go. Perhaps it'd be better now that I've gotten slightly more mature, but the city has left rather a foul taste in my mouth. (It's still a great city to visit, though.)
California, on the other hand, has been much better to me - amazingly so. There's a vast amount of art going on out here, there are many people of my ken out here, and I get paid pretty well to be a geek. (Note that when I say 'California' I specifically mean 'the San Francisco Bay Area' - I've been to LA once, and it was very odd. I don't think I'd like it down there.) Part of the reason for this is probably that an awful lot of people are from elsewhere, and came out here to mix in. Some of the native Californians I've met are the stereotypical 'superficial' and/or hippier-than-thou type, but they're in the minority.
the compare-and-contrast section (20 points): Boston is fixated on its universities and by extension its credentials and outdoing one another and exclusivity. San Francisco has its definite 'tude about being all cultural and whatnot and Silly Valley is all about being productive and working 80-hour weeks... but both generally seem to be inclusive, eager to embrace whatever comes to it.
While I still have reservations about the state and the area, I'm quite glad I'm here. Will I "settle down"? I have no idea, but I'm gonna enjoy the ride.