I never meant to live in California.
In fact, I argued against it for several years, while married to my first husband who had grown up out here. I met him in Louisiana, we lived together in Oklahoma, and he always wanted to move back to his childhood home in Ventura, CA. After a week-long visit in 1997 or ’98, I found myself afraid of moving here – it was too big, too dirty, too different for me. There were no trees! Not like in Southeast Texas/Louisiana and even Oklahoma City. I hated palm trees. I felt so out of place.
When I got divorced, I stayed for a couple months with a boyfriend, then had nowhere to go when we broke up. My dad offered to let me stay at his place in Costa Mesa, CA, and because I had no real choice, I accepted.
I had a hard time making friends at first, and finally made some through the Camarilla Fan Club (now known as The Mind’s Eye Society) of which I’d been a member for about 4 years before I’d moved. A year after I came to Cali, I moved into my own apartment in Long Beach with a roomie and fully began to settle into California. Eventually, I loved it, especially after meeting my current husband and solidifying many friendships.
For a while, I thought I would never want to move away from here. I mean, let’s face it – Southern California is known for its exceptional weather, and it’s no lie. Sunny, warm weather is the norm here, with some grey days in May and June and a sprinkle of rain in the winter. In all my time in California ( almost 9 years now) I’ve never lived more than 2 miles from a beach, and mostly I’ve lived only a few blocks from one. Mountains with beautiful, scenic views are a short-ish drive away, and the stark beauty of the desert isn’t much further. Las Vegas is only a 4 hour drive (if you drive like a Los Angeleno) and is a great weekend get-away – Adam and I have a time share property there. One of the most fun things about living in Los Angeles County is being able to identify all the locations in movies and TV – much of the Transformers movie was shot in L.A. and Dexter (which is set in Florida) is shot down the street from my house, for the most part. Songs, books, movies, and T.V. shows are written about and in and have settings in the Southland, and I find it fun to be able to identify so readily with them.
There are so many reasons to love La La Land, but there are plenty of reasons to hate it also.
- high crime rates
- grime caused by lack of cleansing rain and too much smog
- the huge sprawl of the metro area, unbroken by nature or pretty scenery
- the SoCal image
- housing prices
One of the things I’ve disliked about California for a long time is it’s lack of proximity to family. My dad and stepmom moved to Phoenix not long after I got my apartment in Long Beach. Step-aunts and uncles, and my step-brothers either moved with them or aren’t too big on visiting. My extended birth family is mostly in Wisconsin, with the major exception being my sister, who lives in Indiana. And my husband’s family, probably the best, most good hearted people I know, mostly live in Minnesota. Except Adam’s sister, who actually lives in Riverside, CA, which is far enough away from us to limit trips to visit to 3 or 4 times a year.
Lately I’ve felt a strong urge to connect with family again. To live close to a community of people who love us. Adam’s extended family is not only huge, but they’re truly wonderful people. I’ve said before that they’re the kind of people I never believed existed outside of classic television. Not that they’re unnaturally perfect or anything – but they’re honest, kind, warm, steady, non-crazy, stable folks who are family oriented and genuinely decent people. There’s not a mess of them in jail, none of them should be kept away from small children for safety reasons, mental disease seems minimal, etc. No one punched anyone else out at the family reunion a few years back… stuff like that.
So, when I started feeling the pull to be around family, Adam’s was the obvious choice for me. I truly like them. I think they like me, mostly. So we’re looking into it, and we have a very tentative plan to move out there after my Barbershop chorus’ international competition in October. We even have a good idea on where we’d live – a large house in the rural area surrounding Northfield, MN. In fact, we may be neighbors with Adam’s parents!
It’s a paradigm shift for me – I’ve mostly lived in large-ish cities or their suburbs. I’ve never lived on a farm, or on property with more than a fraction of an acre footprint. But I’m ready. I can’t stop thinking of it, of all the opportunities it opens, all the changes it presents.
It won’t be easy. It won’t be fun all the time (especially that first Winter and it’s attendant snowfall). But I think it will be a very good thing. And that’s what matters.
Here’s hoping for the future, and the best it can bring.
Do you have any big plans in mind for this year? Any game-changers in the works for you? I’d love to hear about them!