Monday Smiles – 2/2/2015
I have now been a resident of the State of California for 44 years. And of Orange County, California for 42. When we moved here, we told our disappointed parents that we were only going for a few years. I don’t know if we were just kidding ourselves or lying, whether we knew even then how much we’d like it here. We certainly had an inkling that we would … we’d visited college friends in Santa Monica and they loved it. Our best friends had recently moved to San Diego from Rhode Island, where we met them. We were at that age when friends seemed easy to make, whether through work or putting in yards in a new neighborhood or kids’ activities. Yes, there were things to get used to. There was traffic, freeway traffic the likes of which we’d never experienced but we learned the art of planning our outings to avoid rush hour or checking for traffic reports before setting out. These days our GPS takes care of that for us. On the day we drove into Southern California, down the San Bernadino Freeway, a blanket of smog was hanging low over the shabbier neighborhoods along the freeway in the San Gabriel Valley and we wondered, What have we done? But the smog lifted and nicer neighborhoods were only minutes away. Over the years, the smog has lessened and these days, we rarely have one of those burning-lung days that sometimes happened forty years ago. Yes, those neighborhoods had the small yards and close together houses that our back East friends warned us about but those houses were affordable back then and people landscaped their yards into little enclaves that made up for their size. In our first close-together neighborhood in Yorba Linda we made great friends that are with us still and adopted our two children. It was sometimes hard being far away from family and friends but we were fortunate to be able to travel … and to have other good friends move here from the East, if only for a while.
California gets a bad rap these days, in some ways with cause. The cost of living is ridiculous and the government seems determined to drive the state to bankruptcy. Wildfires rage through neighborhoods every year … we’ve been evacuated twice. We are in the midst of a drought and the rush hour traffic is worst than ever. It’s easy to take California for granted. But sometimes, as we drive along the coast, through Newport Beach or Laguna Beach, we notice that if we imagine just a bit, we could be driving along the highway in Wailea, Maui. And as Muri’s brother is telling us he’s freezing in Connecticut and my brother is posting pictures of snow in Ohio, it’s going to be in the seventies and our backyard looks like this:
The new job my company is starting is kicking into gear, but instead of confining myself to my office, I’ll work in the park today, completely connected to anything I need via the internet. Nothing makes me feel more fortunate to be self-employed than that. I’m a Californian and on the second of February, that’s a good thing. Life is good. It’s Monday, I’m smiling.