7 years ago today...at 6:12 pm...we pulled into Boca Raton, FL.
Back then I was part of a we (now it's me, myself and I) and reaching FL was at that moment in time one of the biggest goals I'd ever accomplished.
Decided I would move to Florida on October 17, 1989, the night of the Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern CA. (http://www.seismo.berkeley.edu/seismo/faq/1989_0.html). The earthquake hit at 5:04 pm San Jose time. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. You know how they say before you die your life will flash before your eyes? Well it did. And as I crouched beneath my desk at work, watching the walls sway and the ceiling above me dip, I really thought my life was over.
By the time I got home at 10:30 that night (between the traffic and not being sure which overpasses were stable) the power was still off and my husband and dog were panicked beyond belief. My husband wasn't a native Californian and he had just been thru one previous earthquake prior to Loma Prieta. With the power out we had no idea what was going on. Our landline phones were down, neither of us had cell phones, and the continuing aftershocks were terrifying. At one point I picked up the phone and while it had a dial tone I couldn't reach any of my family in Southern CA or any of our local friends.
So I called one of my best friends in Israel just as they were waking up and asked him to turn on CNN... his wife started screaming when she saw what the earthquake had done to our area. They held the phone to the tv for about 5 minutes then the connection was broken.
But at least I had an idea of what happened. And I told my husband that I'd had enough of a lifetime of earthquakes in CA and I was outta there. Maybe not that night or that month or even that year, but my mind was made up that I'd be leaving CA with or without him.
(This is so damn ironic given that as I write this Florida is under a Hurricane Watch...remnants of Bonnie blew thru today and Charley is supposed to hit soon...go figure!)
It took awhile.
First I had to convince him...that took several years...then over a 3 year period we/I made several fact-finding trips to South Florida. And planned, plotted, imagined, hoped and dreamed.
The quote I kept repeating over and over was 'If you will it, it is not a dream'...one of my favorite quotes attributed to Theodor Herzl, founder of the state of Israel.
After awhile, the increasingly high cost of housing in the Silicon Valley area combined with the beyond bizarre traffic (it took my husband 1 hour to travel 7 miles...each way...to and from work) worked in my favor and the move went from 'thinking about it' to 'full-speed ahead'.
Since it was my dream, I gladly did all the research. Found job leads, helped with resume writing, found a realtor to buy our FL house, targeted a company I wanted to work for (told all my friends in CA I would work for this specific company and guess what? my 6 year anniversary with them is 27 Aug), found the moving company, packed the house and did whatever was needed to be done to get us out of Earthquake Land to FL.
July 28th we closed on our San Jose house at 9:30 and by 10:15 we were on the road. Gas was going for .97 cents per gallon. The average price of a 3 bed, 2 bath, mediocre average house was $505,000.
12 August we paid .92 for gas in Broward County (our realtor advised us to always get gas in Broward since it is .06 cheaper than Palm Beach). Our house...the gorgeous house of my dreams that made me think I had died and gone to heaven...our 2,000 square foot house in a guard-gated community was $152,000. YES!! Can you believe it? We couldn't! Kept expecting someone to jump out from behind the bushes and say 'Surprise...did you really think you could get a house for this amount of money'?
Well, we did get it. And for awhile I was amazed at how perfect our life had become. A lovely house in an incredibly beautiful area, 8 minutes from the ocean, absolutely breathtaking beyond belief sunrises and sunsets, exotic wildlife, greenery in the Summer (CA has 10 months of brown and 2 months-if you are lucky- of green) and he seemed to be happy with everything as well.
Eight sets of visitors in 6 months. I live for company. It was heaven. Perfection in paradise.
And after awhile, for reasons that are personal and private and in the past, the perfection ended. I left my dream house and moved to an apartment and soon after our marriage ended.
Lots of thinking 'was this why I came to FL'? We had started all over as a couple, now it was time for me to start all over again by myself.
So I did.
My first night in my apt, wrote a list of what I wanted in my next dream house. Came up with a list of 23 must haves...and luckily/happily the house I bought has 19 of my 23 must haves.
I have learned that things you think you must have aren't always needed after all. That sometimes you can be happier without than with.
If you would have told me prior to moving here that I would be living where I am, doing what I do and involved in the activities I'm involved in, I wouldn't have been surprised. Towards the end of life in CA I decided that while you can plan your life out to the nth degree, sometimes you just have to be open to going where life seems to lead you.
A whole string of events lead me to FL and my life has taken some interesting twists and turns along the way.
Even tho I do miss all the good-hair days in non-humid CA, as well as In-N-Out, Round Table Pizza and of course my friends and family (had to put that in there or else I would really hear it from my dad!!) I have become a proud Floridian. Well, maybe not a totally proud Floridian when it comes to how they screwed up the 2000 Presidential election, but for the most part this is my home and I consider myself a Floridian.
Who knows where I’ll be in the next 7 years? Could be here, maybe somewhere else. It won’t be in CA that’s for sure...have priced myself out of that housing market and there still is that matter of earthquakes. It has to be near the ocean, so that eliminates a great majority of the US. And Utah...well, I just can’t ever live there...it’s a matter of principle on that one.
What started as a whim the night of a devastating earthquake in CA has lead me to happy ever after in FL.
And on that note, time to check out the hurricane updates!