This column isn’t going to be me telling you to move to California. I’ve lived in California for two years now and sure, it has all the incredible things you either know or have imagined about it. It also has the highest taxes, horrible traffic and restaurants that literally don’t serve you water. No, this isn’t going to be me telling you to move to California.
I was living in the town I grew up in. If you could call it living. Going through the motions at a job I despised and working for people I wouldn’t have pissed on if they were on fire. Every November crawling under a blanket for the next six months until it was no longer colder than outer space outside. Probably getting married to a girl who seemed “exotic” because she was from Indiana or Michigan, two states that were 45 minutes away. I was going to work in the city and move to the suburbs when I had kids. And eventually, I would die.
I would have had really good reasons for doing those things too. Work at that job to pay off that student loan debt. Stay nearby to be close to my family and friends. Move to the suburbs to save money and marry that girl because that’s what she would have naturally wanted. These reasons would put a set of expectations on me that eventually would become rules to live by.
So instead of listening to those reasons and playing by those rules, I moved to California.
Sure, I partially moved because the Capital R was out here. But also because since about the age of 16 I had wanted to do it. Up until that point, I had done everything that people in my life had wanted me to do. And I hated probably every minute of it. This was the first time, ever, that I pushed all my chips into the center of the table and waited to see what cards I was dealt.
Two years later, it’s safe to say that decision was the best I’ve ever made. I am without a doubt the happiest I’ve ever been. When I go home to visit and I’m asked how my life out here is, all I can say is, “I have zero to complain about.” I’m sure it won’t stay that way. I’m not even sure if I’ll stay here forever. But at least I’ll be able to look back down the road and say THAT, that right there is when I made a decision entirely of my own volition.
So this is the part where I turn to you, imaginary reader, and tell you the one thing to take away from this whole, rambling, not funny tale. That is to live your life according to the way it makes sense for you. Not for your teachers, your parents, the idiots from high school who you’re still Facebook friends with and certainly not that Midwest 6 you’ve been dating since college. Think long and hard about what you’ve always wanted to do and consider what a lifetime of regret would feel like if you don’t. Stop what you’re doing. Go out and find your California. .
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