In 1997, I was 24. I married the man I’d already been living with for nearly 5 years and together, we set off for San Francisco, California, like lots of people my age were doing at the time. The economy was doing well and there were jobs to be had, even with little to no experience. A friend was already there, and told us the company he was with had loads of openings, if only you were willing to work through a temp agency for the first 6 months (for me it ended up being a year – a hiring freeze happened not long after I started). Five years later, I was still employed there, even through 6 months of being on medical leave with my primary diagnosis of cancer. It was easier then – the company is enormous, and a sick leave pool was always on tap to make up for what the California Temporary Disability payments didn’t cover. But then, the Tech Bubble burst, and layoffs happened. We decided to take the opportunity to move somewhere else new and exciting: Austin, Texas.
“You can see a live band every night of the week for a year, and never see all there is to offer in Austin.” That was one of the phrases a friend of ours used to lure us there. He’d already been living there for four years and loved the nightlife scene. Well, I wasn’t much of a nightlife kinda gal, but my husband was keen and I was ready to move on to someplace warmer. (Boy was I in for a surprise.) We ended up staying there for 10 years (this is without the 10 months where we attempted to have a coffee shop in Pennsylvania on a “broken shoestring budget”, and the last 3 years were mostly because we needed health insurance. Really, we’d ceased being happy there about 2 years into it, but we were stuck, and kept trying to make the best of it, moving from one house to another and trying to “look on the bright side.”
In early 2013, we found an “angle” to get back home, to our landbase. And it has been the best thing we’ve ever done. There are challenges, and it’s not over yet. My husband keeps telling me that “as a last resort” we could move back to Texas, if it meant keeping my job (and thus, health coverage – which, with the Affordable Healthcare Act, should not be a problem after this year). I consider moving back to Texas a last resort AFTER every possibility is exhausted INCLUDING living in a box on the street in Philadelphia in winter. Yes, I am serious.
Because I am so in love with my home state, even my hometown these days, that I never want to leave. This region is absolutely gorgeous. Yes, it dies back in winter and looks grey and dreary. But when I was younger, I didn’t appreciate what the land was doing; it was resting after working so hard all spring, summer and fall. The colors of those seasons were always such a delight, how could we endure the cold and the grey for 3 months, right? Except it’s only 3 months. The rest of the year we get such amazing scenes all around us!
Everywhere we go of late, I have some deeply imprinted memory of my childhood that comes rushing back. And much of it is good, pleasant memories. We’ve been exploring a lot of the hiking trails and the streams that are open to everyone and the back road drives… and it’s breathtaking. Last night, we walked on one of the paved trails just at sunset. Part of it is a bridge crossing over the local reservoir where people fish and kayak during the day. We sat on a bench on that bridge and watched the clouds until the sky was dark, then started walking back to our car. As we reached a section where there were trees and long grasses, the night came alive with the sparkle of fireflies all around us. We had to stop and stare and watch the show, because isn’t this so much more real than anything portrayed on the TV screen? THIS is reality and it’s incredible. Magical. We stood for 45 minutes, watching and thanking the gods for their gift.
This is my home. I’m so happy to be here.