As 2015 draws to a close, it appears that our sojourn in California does too. After almost 6 years, the time has come for us to say good-bye, and explore new horizons. We always knew this wasn’t going to be our forever home, but never in a million years did I expect to finish the year by purchasing a home in Austin, TX. Yes, we’re heading to the Lone Star State, which is not something I ever considered a possibility in my lifetime.
While I had (not so secretly) hoped to make my way back to Europe, and to be closer to our families, I’ve had to accept that this might not be the ideal scenario for the rest of my family. Our teenager is going to be a Freshman next autumn (i.e. she is starting High School), and will appreciate a familiar school system. And S isn’t ready to give up exploring and deepening his work relationships in the US (nor the lifestyle!). But it’s a start, we’re inching closer to home. Two hours closer, to be precise, which will make communication with Europe a great deal easier.
Of course I have mixed feelings. This is a major decision. I’m sad to leave this beautiful part of the world behind, and above all, our Californian community of friends. But I also feel it’s the right time to pack our bags. The California lifestyle is becoming more and more unsustainable (as captured perfectly in Daniel Duane’s very haunting My Dark California Dream). The skies are still as technicolor blue as ever, and the coastline (where it’s untouched) is still breathtakingly gorgeous. The quality of light is unique, and I greedily soak it up while running or driving through the golden hills in the early evening sun. But the drought has left its mark, and there are too many people, driving too many expensive cars and buying more and more unaffordable houses. As much as I’ll miss it, it’s not where I want to stay.
How we’ll fare in Texas, of course, is another matter. Are we trading unaffordable living for a gun-crazy, Republican mentality? I’m told Austin is nothing like the rest of Texas, and my recent visits have certainly been encouraging. Austin’s mayor is a Democrat, and it people call the city “the bluest dot in the reddest state”. For non-Americans, this means a very liberal city in a very conservative state (yes, red in the USA stands for conservative). It has a vibrant art scene and is full of creative minds, music, and good food. Sounds like we’re in for a very good time.
For now, bear with me while I dust off my Cowboy boots. I promise I will diligently document my observations and experiences. Let’s see what this immigrant, liberal, feminist, atheist, pro-choice woman will find in the Lone Star State!