I don't buy the idea that people from the east coast are brasher, ruder, more arrogant than people from other parts of the country. (I think it's just different communication styles/expectations.) But if it were true that east coast people are more arrogant than west coast people, I'd be tempted to blame the landscape.
Saturday I drove to the northern part of my state for a fiber festival (hey, I'm a yarn geek). Towards the end of the drive, you wind through some mountain passes, following the bends of a river, and then start climbing up and up. Then you come to the top of the peak, and a vast green plain opens up before you. It's ringed with mountains - and I mean, mountains; there are, ostensibly, mountains where I went to college, for instance, but these look completely different. And dividing the plain is a huge crack in the earth, a jagged brown gorge ripping through the green.
I felt very, very small. Not in a bad way. But small.
The northeast is beautiful, and grand, but on a more human scale. And in the built-up cities, what towers above you is an artificial landscape made by humans.
The west just seems to put you in a completely different relation to the universe.
* * * *
The fiber festival was fun - it's always neat to be surrounded by beautiful yarn, and fleeces, and wool and leather products. There were alpaca, and fluffy angora bunnies who looked used to being waited on hand and foot. It's also a highly feminized space, without being about beauty or fashion or other things relating to one's looks. (I was going to say "or shopping," but at least it's shopping for the raw materials from which to make things. It's consumerism, but consumerism that facilitates beautiful craftwork. Or even half-assed and not very attractive craftwork, but still something productive. Well, okay, most knitters I know have ridiculous stashes of yarn, but still, the potential for production is there.) Also, there are a lot of older women. Really, it's very different from the average media portrayal of women, which is quite lovely.
* * * *
The town is beautiful - historic, artistic, physically gorgeous. But it was a little jarring to drive through some very impoverished parts of the state, including lots of Indian country, passing lots of little beat-up towns with rickety mobile homes - and then land in this middle of this highly touristic, precious little town filled with wealthy older white people. I mean, I'm white, and in the grand scheme of the world, I'm not badly off, and soon enough I will be one of these people. I'm not saying they're bad people. Just that it was jarring.
* * * *
The trip left me a little torn, actually. One way of looking at it is: I drove 5 hours to spend 3 hours looking at things to buy, and I spent $30 on a (large) skein of yarn, when I could have driven 10 minutes to the yarn store nearby and bought the same amount of yarn for probably less money.
Of course, the other way of looking at it is: I got to see quite a bit more of this state, I did something with my weekend besides sit and stare at the TV or the computer or both, I mingled with other people who love the same hobby that I do, and I commemorated the day with lovely yarn dyed by a local/regional dyer whose products aren't sold in your average yarn store.
(It is awfully pretty yarn - see? Though LDH was like, "Oh, it's purple - I'm SHOCKED." I kind of have a thing for purple yarns.)