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When I decide I’m going to clean, I typically start with my closet. I love to organize and reorganize my clothes, sometimes planning a few outfits ahead of time or even putting a few items in a discard/donate pile. This week when I went through my closet, though, I got a little sad.

My time in North Carolina proved very good for my summer wardrobe. The items I collected from the area’s various thrift stores could not only be worn during summer weekends, but many things could be worn throughout the year. One year I even wore shorts on Christmas.

As someone who grew up wearing jeans year-round, I was surprised how much I grew to love shorts – I even wore them to work. (It was very hot, what can I say?)

My new wardrobe was great and I was killin’ the local fashion scene (at least in my own head), but then I decided to move to California. I assumed that this high-humidity-inspired style would translate perfectly to the new climate I was heading into, but I was wrong.

For some reason – stupidly – I thought that California was called the “Golden State” because it was always sunny. The sun is yellow. Yellow is close to gold. Now that I think about it, I see it’s a stretch.

(I didn’t learn until writing this column that the nickname comes from the Gold Rush. Admittedly, that makes so much more sense. My bad.)

When I came into the office, which was in a trailer, on that first day in November 2015 I was accused of “bringing the rain.” The day I got here was the first time it had rained in months – at least that’s what I was told.

I knew California was in a drought, but I didn’t feel happy about the accusation. I would’ve liked the rain to stay behind. I didn’t move to California because I like the rain.

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I quickly learned that the expectations I had about California were only what I had seen on TV – sunshine, beaches and girls who wear flowers in their hair. I guess that’s Southern California. I moved to Northern California, more specifically, the Bay Area, which has wind, rain and what I call “cold weather.”

Even when it’s not raining, it’s not necessarily warm here. There are no warm nights, there is no taking a dip in the ocean on a hot August day and I’ll be lucky if I get to wear all the shorts I own this summer. It’s hardly hot here compared to the Southeast, but maybe that’s the appeal?

Coming here I knew practically nothing about Northern California – maybe I still don’t. That’s why, in addition to wanting to utilize my wardrobe, I need to get out more and explore.

Last summer was the first in my life that I didn’t swim in the ocean, and I don’t plan on having a second.

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Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. Jersey Girl runs every other Sunday. Follow her on Twitter at @RiaSestito or email her at


Maria Sestito is the former Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She now writes for the Register as a freelancer.