Right Back Where I Started From...

I won't lie -- I've wanted to return to California for quite some time now, but didn't actually seriously take it into consideration until just a few months ago. Upon finishing my graduate degree in Utah, I thought about the possibility of staying in Utah or moving to a number of other places (Montana, Las Vegas, and Texas among them), for a number of reasons. For a while I was applying for jobs in various areas, thinking that wherever I happened to get a job was where I'd go. But when I didn't land a job in any one area (damn economy), I began to do some serious consideration about what I, personally, wanted and where I desired to live.

The answer was California. During my teenage and early adult years (you know, when I was still pining to be a princess at Disneyland) I desired to return to California (where I was born and spent many of the first twelve years of my life). After I married and traveled from Vegas to Washington to Idaho to Utah, I desired to return to California. So now that I'm on my own and calling all the shots in my life, I had to answer the following question: at this point in my life, when I can choose anywhere I want to go, why not finally return to California? After all, when will I again have the opportunity to pick anywhere I want to live and make it happen?

The major issue for me was expense. It's no secret that California is a hugely expensive state to live in, particularly in the Bay Area (where I'm at). Luckily, though, I have friends here who have been kind enough to open their home to me and show me that finding a nice area that's still affordable is, in fact, possible -- if you know where to look. So, to make a long story short, I found myself a great place in a great area and am getting ready to make the move that I've been looking forward to for about fifteen years now.

Still, I've been reflecting recently on the fact that I'll be leaving Utah after living there for almost five years. My son was practically raised there. I got my education (bachelor's and master's degrees) there. I'd be lying if I claimed I didn't have some roots there. So, as excited as I am to be in California now, I am finding myself reminiscing fondly about some aspects of my former state.

Things I'll miss about Utah:

1) The people I met. I made some great friends in Utah, both in St. George (Cath Glover, Dustin Jackson, and Kay Berry, to name a few) and in Logan (Simone Suddreth, Charlotte Kondel), and I'll miss them for sure. The academic mentors that I grew close to (Sue Bennett, Jennifer Sinor, Brock Dethier, etc.) are all in Utah as well. Even the acquaintences that I made (the Old Barn Theatre crowd, for example) were great people. I've taken so much from my Utah relationships.

2) "Minority Sundays." Being part of the nonreligious crowd in Utah usually meant that I could go shopping on Sundays with little to no crowds to deal with. I'll definitely miss that.

3) The small, safe community. This has it's upside and downside, but Logan was certainly the smallest, safest community I've ever lived in (with the exception of, maybe, Hudson in Quebec). Last year, my first grader could walk to and from school on his own, and there was an overall sense of calm throughout the community. I didn't lock my doors, and never once had a problem. That will be missed.

But ... here are the things I'm just loving about California:

1) Being back in a busy, diverse community. Let's be honest -- even though Utah has some diversity (especially on the college/university campuses), it's very white and very Mormon. I'm loving being (and raising my son) in an area that experiences and promotes racial, religious, sexual, and political diversity (among other things). It's fantastic.

2) Related to what I just said, it's been great being in a political and ideological environment that I fit into better. Being the furthest thing from an ultra-conservative Mormon, coupled with the fact that I'm a single, working mother made finding a niche in Utah quite difficult. Not so in the Bay Area.

3) Two words: food and wine. In California, the fruits and veggies are so fresh. The seafood is so fresh. The variety of the stores and in the stores is amazing. Nearly everything is just delicious, and all of this makes eating healthy so much easier than I'm used to. And let's not forget that I'm now in wine country, so the flow of delicious reds and whites has been nonstop.

4) The job and academic opportunities. Even though the economy sucks and finding a job anywhere is tough right now, this area is huge, and being close to San Francisco means that there are job openings all over the place. I've been able to throw my resume in dozens of different areas. Also, I've been thinking about the future possibility of either a PhD or a JD, and the academic institutions offer so many choices to be thinking about.

5) My place. It's small and affordable. It has a dishwasher (after living two years without one, this was a big deal). It's surrounded by trees and plant life. It's close to so much. I'm loving it.

6) The weather. In Utah, I was used to two extremes: the dry desert heat of St. George, and the frigid winters of Logan. In St. George, I spent summers sweating and seeking out air-conditioned venues. In Logan, I spent winters managing icy roads and air cold enough to freeze wet hair. Since being in California, I've experienced the mildest, most beautiful weather! The summer has been mostly in the high 70s and low 80's -- warm enough to swim, and cool enough to stay comfortable. I know it won't snow in the winter. It's fantastic.

I know there are other things I'll miss about Utah and other things I love about California that I'll remember one minute after posting this, but for now I'll leave it as is. I'm heading out now to enjoy the clear blue skies and 75 degree summer!