October 17, 2018
Moving to Mexico: USAdios.com
Chapter 19: A Bit Bluesy But Reaffirming Our Decision
I have spent decades dreaming of leaving California for the sunny shores of St. Somewhere, and now that the countdown clock shows less than eight months I have to be honest, I find myself already missing my home. I look out at our small orchard of pine trees (is a group of pines an “orchard”…not sure) and I imagine one day looking at those same trees from the walking trail that lies just behind our fence. I know I will do this, just like the ghost I can be, lurking around former abodes, remembering things as bigger and better than they actually were. I’ve done this my entire life. And the fact that I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else is setting me up for a seriously difficult, melancholy, bluesy trail-walk. I am not looking forward to that.
I just serviced the chemicals in our spa and saw this:
Confused? I have always considered my wife to be the light of the world, so she is represented by the sun. I’m more “cool” and a not as warm and “sunny” as she is, so that made me the moon. Here is what these photos represent:
- The little sun and moon is a ceramic piece we bought when we first purchased this home back in 2001.
- The wooden sun and moon was purchased in the Bahamas.
- The last photo is the back of the second photo, signed by the artist and dated, 1999.
These things have hung in our back yard for a very long time and are certainly showing some wear. But, they are still together, doing their jobs and reminding me of how long we have lived here. For some reason, seeing these little reminders today (as I measured out the chlorine for the spa) made me pause for a few moments and reflect on our years here in this house.
It’s funny but knowing we will soon leave is making me appreciate what we have and where we live.
One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t miss what you never had.” A twist to that might be, “Appreciate what you have before you are forced to miss it.” I’m going to do that as much as possible, but it won’t help. I’ll long for this place that I have griped about so much, regardless.
I won’t miss the traffic, that’s for sure. We just flew back to Oakland from Phoenix after touring colleges with our son for a couple of days. We parked in the short-term lot at the airport and the drive home took almost ninety minutes. Granted, we got on the road at six o’clock, but it took us an hour and a half to travel twenty-five miles.
“Dad, did you know that an NFL game takes about three and a half hours, but the ball is in play a mere eleven minutes?” My son asked as he maneuvered through the traffic.
“I had heard something like that, yes.” I replied. “The speed limit on this interstate is sixty-five miles per hour. I’ll bet we are averaging about…hmmm, let me see.” I checked Google and found this:
“If we travel 25 miles in 90 minutes, that looks like we were averaging about 16.66 miles per hour.” I said. “We could do better on city streets!” *I hope my math was right. Either way, it felt like we were crawling along, barely faster than a brisk walk.
“Probably Dad, but the Waze app has already crowded the city streets too.” He said. And he was right. Modern technology solves many problems without thinking of the other issues it causes. Job security; more problems to solve. I envisioned a black electric cat chasing its tail while wearing white iPhone ear buds. I shook my head. I was tired!
When we moved to the Caribbean back in 2006, I felt like I never looked back. We left the same house here in Walnut Creek and moved into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo on the beach in New Providence, Bahamas. I guess the only difference this time is that back then my mother moved into our home and took care of everything. She drove our cars, fed our dogs and made sure our home stayed ready for our return visits. We came home for Christmas and for two months in summer (when our son had time off from school) and it was miserably hot and balmy back on the island.
“Everything here is perfect.” I said one evening as we strolled Broadway Plaza, the more upscale shopping area in Walnut Creek, on a crisp December night.
“What do you mean?” Betty asked.
“Look around. The stores, the roads, the trees, the cars…jeez, the cars.” I said. “I feel like I am in Disneyland. This does not feel real.”
“It’s very real.” She quipped. “It’s just not a developing nation like the Bahamas.” She was right. Our adopted nation had a long way to go if it was going to keep up with its neighbors to the north. Back on the island, the roads were a mess, drainage was non-existent, so the rains just flooded everything until the water evaporated, the stores were second-rate, the restaurants had pricey food with awful service…what am I trying to say? Without those beautiful beaches and crystal-clear water, the Bahamas would empty of tourists. Our island dream had become a reality and that reality was that living in the Bahamas kind of…sucked. Nothing worked there. We still had rolling power outages, had to lock our house like a vault every night, closing all of our hurricane shutters and it took six months to get a local phone installed in your house.
If I live in such an idyllic, perfectly-run place, why am I always so ready to leave it? Why trade it for living in less than ideal conditions in a foreign nation? Because it is NOT perfect. There is something missing, something wrong. If not, then why do so many people in the Bay Area spend so much time in bars? Why do so many people my age do this?
I put myself through college bartending and it was a good time, being on the business side of the bar. As I got older, I discovered that I just can’t do the bar banter on a regular basis.
“My favorite western: has to be Tombstone.”
“Me, I love High Noon.”
“How about Shane?”
“Oh man, you’re going way back!”
“Who was that actor?”
“No, the old guy who did the pushups at the Oscars…”
“Ohh, Jack Palance.”
“He was awesome in City Slickers.”
“The secret of life…THIS. One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.”
And it goes on and on for hours like that. Each conversation bleeding into the next, random topics, semi-interesting trivia, old stories all growing with our bellies as we swill another light beer in the losing battle of the bulge.
Believe me, I’m as guilty as the rest. But these conversations would never take place but for the regular imbibing of alcohol. Imagine your last two-bottles-of-wine after dinner conversation. Now, imagine having that while drinking Perrier. It just would not happen. Booze makes tiresome talk enticing. I can gab it up with the best of them with a few beers. And the light of the sun shows a sober moment’s reflection of an evening wasted, gabbing away our valuable time, filling the void with empty chatter.
Here is a good place to waste some time. This is one of the adults-only beaches on our resort in Mexico. It was here just a couple of weeks ago where I was reminded of why we are leaving home. We are bored. We have done everything there is to do at home dozens of times while refusing many of the touristy excursions. We don’t frequent Alcatraz. We don’t walk across the Golden Gate bridge. And we don’t spend much time at Pier 39. Do you want to know why? Because it’s not fun anymore.
Alcatraz is a run-down, tiny place and it’s difficult to imagine what it was like when the prisoners were there because it’s desolate and quiet, void of their having ever been there, an empty shell of a place that does not translate its history well.
Check out this site for details, but expect to pay up to $100.00 for each adult ticket and book months in advance or cue up in the same-day ticket line which forms around 3:45 AM:
Walking across the Golden Gate bridge is unsafe and noisy due to the amount of traffic whizzing by. It’s usually very windy and cold. It’s beautiful, but it’s a place with a dark side. If you’re really unlucky, as you’re walking across, someone will jump off the bridge to their doom. It happens fairly often. The media does not report it to avoid encouraging others. There were over 1,600 confirmed suicides between 1937 and 2012 (meaning bodies were recovered) so the actual number must be much higher. I used to cross the bridge every day to attend SFSU while living in Marin, but since learning more about the jumpers, it’s been very hard for me to enjoy the view on the bridge, looking down to see the nets installed, knowing that they are not “safety” nets, but “suicide” nets.
Here is a sad video about the topic:
Pier 39? It’s just thousands of tourists buying saltwater taffy, Bubba Gump shrimp and paying $100.00 for a “SF Pier 39” sweatshirt because they are freezing their butts off. No one realizes how cold it can be in SF in the middle of June.
I keep coming back to the same thought: life here in California used to be great. It was wonderful. But the people kept coming. And now it takes so long to get anywhere to do something that will surely be crowded and expensive, we just don’t do it anymore. I have a beautiful roadster in my shop right now and the weather is perfect outside, but I don’t dare take it to SF for a cruise down Ocean Beach. It could take me two hours to get there, there will be nowhere to park so we can enjoy the scenery. And if we do find a place to park, it’s likely the car will be stolen while we’re waiting in line at the Cliff House to buy our $34.00 Cioppino.
I hate to sound so negative about my home, but I’ve lived here my entire life and I’ve seen it go down the tubes. When I lived in San Francisco, I never thought I would leave. When the price of housing forced me to move to the Burbs, it took about two years to stop missing the city. But now I almost never visit my old home. It has changed. I tend to agree with this video:
San Francisco is the WORST city on Earth & I’ll never move back
I’m just over the place. It’s not the same. It’s just too crowded, and that has driven our once beautiful, unique home into a place that is crumbling under the weight of its own popularity. When we moved to Walnut Creek back in 1995, it was your typical small, East Bay town. Not a lot of culture, not a lot of fancy restaurants, not a lot of people but it was a quaint, safe and clean place to live with about 62,000 residents. Our city has only grown by about 7,000 residents since 1995, but the amount of cars that drive through Walnut Creek has risen to about 200,000 per day. Where are they all going? Farther and farther from SF, as the suburban sprawl extends deeper and deeper into what was once all farms and orchards, balancing the cost of their distant home with their salary in the city. Their daily commute being the tightrope upon which they balance a good portion of their lives.
I guess I’m just tired of it all. I’ve done this for a long time. The only thing that keeps going up is the price of housing and crime. Everything else seems to be going down due to the overpopulation of the Bay Area. A bursting bubble is again predicted, but when?
After the 1989 earthquake, I commuted almost three hours from SF to Santa Cruz to help rebuild my hometown, working construction in an area that was hard hit by that epic shaker. At that time, commuter Highway 17 was damaged, so everyone had to use Highway 1, a small, beach highway that travels along the coast, scenic and not good for heavy traffic. Oddly enough, today it would take about the same amount of time to make that 88-mile drive from Nob Hill to Watsonville. I have lost touch with my friends in Santa Cruz. I just can’t stand that drive anymore and apparently they can’t make the drive up here.
People in our area realize that we live in a bubble, surrounded by areas like Concord to the north, Oakland to the west, Fremont to the south and Pittsburg/Antioch to the east. It feels like the walls are closing in on the little town no one cared about two decades ago. The traffic, congestion, prices and now epic numbers of homeless in Walnut Creek are changing our town for the worse.
Here is a recent issue: homeless in Walnut Creek are bringing their dogs into restaurants and one was seen filling up plastic bags with ice from the drink dispenser.
I just hope that we can sell before everyone else realizes that the emperor has no clothes and prices begin to drop.