My husband is fond of telling people that sixteen years ago, he dragged me to California "kicking and screaming". I don't remember kicking anyone, but I was pretty vocal about the fact that California was never on my wish-list of places to live, and that it would be a temporary stay. I made my husband swear a blood oath that if and when we ever had kids, we would move back to Austin to raise them. I had family and friends and favorite haunts in Texas; California was a brave new world and I was sure I wasn't cut out for the lifestyle.
Growing up in the midwest, my impression of California was that it was a free-spirited, anything-goes kind of place, full of pot-smoking hippies, actors, and surfers. I didn't know how I might fit in, even though I had previously made myself at home in Ohio, New York, Chicago, and Texas. I was willing, however, to try, as long as I had some assurance that if I hated it, the stay would be temporary.
Sixteen years and a house, a child, and a career later, I've grown to love California for its indescribable beauty and innovative spirit. California is my home now, and I don't want to live anywhere else. I've been spoiled by the temperate climate, beautiful scenery, and opportunities around every bend in the road for some new adventure.
While Southern California can boast about its beaches, theme parks, and mountains, Northern California has its share of wonders as well. Where we live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are no more than an hour from the beach, the mountains, or what I think is the most beautiful city in the world--San Francisco. Lake Tahoe is a 3 hour drive, for gorgeous boating and hiking in the summer, or hitting the slopes in the winter. In Northern California, kids traditionally have a week off from school for "Ski Week", making up for the fact that there are no snow days due to the year-round mild weather.
I live in the town where Facebook, Google, and Pinterest all got their start, and every cafe is full of young men and women making deals, creating apps, writing code, and dreaming big dreams of making their mark on the internet and on the world. Palo Alto is a fun and exciting place to live and learn and dream. There is an iconic ad for Hewlett-Packard that shows the founders, (Bill and Dave to the locals) peering into a small garage in Palo Alto and seeing the whole world. In Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Francisco and all up and down the Peninsula, companies work hard to innovate and bring new ideas and products to the world.
I also love the diversity of our community here, where you can hear multiple languages on any street corner at any hour of the day. Children at my son's elementary school spoke 30 different languages at, the most common being Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Hebrew. People from all over the planet gravitate to the Bay Area for work and school, and some never leave. Each culture leaves an indelible mark, and we are all richer for the experience.
I really doubt that I will leave California now, and if I did, you'd better bet there would be kicking and screaming involved. I'm a California girl now.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Photos by Glennia Campbell, 2013. All Rights Reserved.