11 October 2020
No, I am not leaving California. This essay addresses the many many people who have left California. I have known more than my share of them over the course of having lived in this state for forty years.
I arrived here as very young adult, and I, a native Northeasterner, was not welcomed by many of what would be known today as Native Californians. The atmosphere that I encountered was one of hostility and narrow-minded snootiness. I was stunned, and offended, by the ignorant callousness of people who had so much beauty and opportunity all around them. There were vast swaths of land that had yet to even be surveyed for development and construction, the types of property that had eons earlier been gobbled up and concreted in the Northeast.
Dozens of those very same individuals had to, during the past decade, and especially during Geezer Moonbeam’s 2nd 2-term turn at the trough — leave California.
They moved to Oregon (which they’d deemed full of white trash), Nevada (filled with religious rednecks), Arizona (old farts and hicks), Colorado (where children fleeing their parents in the Golden State all congregate), and, for the bold few, The South (Mississippi, Texas, the Carolinas).
Not a single one of those native Californians left their home state happily or with peace of mind. Angry, resentful, bitter, they packed up their stuff and said good riddance to California.
That type of departure does not bode well for anyone, leaving for anywhere. I speak from long experience. My years of leaving one place for another were marked by a fierce determination to leave on my terms, for my own reasons, and, as best as I could have mastered, on my own timeline and with my own pace of walking away. I adamantly refuse to be run off or run out of any place, unless my life depends on it, and, even then, the timing is of my own making.
In a few instances, my neighbor-friends told me that the obnoxious people I’d left behind all believed they’d chased me out of their suburban cocoons and cesspools. I smiled. One house in particular was sold to a police officer and his dispatcher wife, just to delight the lawless snobs in that cul de sac!
The French have half a dozen ways to say “leave”, each one with a distinct sense of not merely the way of going from one place to another, but the reason why. The choice of destination, or place of arrival, also governs which verb to use. “Partir de” means to depart from, in a physical sense, but also in an emotional way. I truly love that verb!
“Quitter” means to vamoose out of there forever. Gone gone gone!
Quitting a place is what those born-and-raised in California exiles all did. Their exodus from the Golden State was perhaps more costly in emotional terms than in financial ones, although I believe the two categories are intimately related. And that emotional baggage is part of what the Receiving States have had to deal with, during at least a decade, perhaps even several. The ghastly, grim and accurate term, Californicate, has ribaldly come into existence to describe, with fury and disgust, the idiots who regulated and taxed California into a state, and place, where they can no longer live — and so they move somewhere else and start their nasty business all over again to destroy that region of liberty, low taxation and nearly non-existent regulation. (Yes, the three factors are wonderfully inter-related.)
Happily, California is getting rid of those self-made victims!
Unhappily, California has also lost millions of hard-working individuals who somewhat helplessly watched their home region become alien to them. I count many fewer people among my friends and associates because they were forced to up and leave California.
And I, the squirrelly blonde girl from the East, the one everyone thought would high-tail out of California, I’m still here.
I can’t say that I planned it that way. I looked at Idaho in the early 1990s as a possible transplant-location. Walla Walla (Washington) was on the short list too. A long-distance friend flatly stated that he, personally, would never live in a place named “Walla Walla”. I laughed so much that I could not seriously keep the locale on the list!
My children, when they were tykes, lived somewhat in fear of Mom making the dreadful decision to pack up the moving van and head on the Interstate north, or even to St. George, Utah (a family vacation in any neighboring state guaranteed Mom researching real estate). Why have I persisted in a region that has savaged the Middle Class, small business, free enterprise, freedom???
Because I believe that the best years are yet to come for California.
My dearly departed friend, Patt, a 4th generation Californian, had been appalled, to the point of spouting expletives, at the pell-mell and ugly development of tract homes and McMansions in the part of Placer County that we both knew and loved. She took it all very personally, the Sub-prime Construction, the vulgar expansion of hovels, the architectural atrocities that Placer County cashed in on with little questions asked. I asked the questions, and Patt always got an ear-full at those public meetings!
I did not take the awfulness of the Subprime Real Estate Scheme personally, but I did surmise that the State of California was in dire need of property taxes from about the year 2000 onward. This state has been floating on Silicon Valley success, long past the time of its greatest digital achievements. Since the early 2000s, many other states in the nation have fostered the development and growth of businesses specializing in the technological hardware and software needed to fight the War on Terror, and to fight crime in the war on civilization in America.
California didn’t even want a battleship in a San Fran harbor, much less deign to profit from the newest generation of digital warriors. Those enterprising experts are cleaning the clock where capitalist investment, jobs and — jobs of the future — are concerned.
The clock is starting to run out on California. The State of California has very little choice but to move its first begrudging steps toward the future. It has led the way to Nowheresville. It had led a lot of gullible people to believe in things that were never true, and would never be true.
The political naïveté of the typical Californian continues to amaze me. That pie-in-the-sky daydreaming is the one constant that has remained in this landscape of potential magnificence. The average Californian falls hook, line and sinker for the Dream that Can’t Come True. I, a romantic and a dreamer at heart, always feel like a big meanie whenever I have to suggest a bit of reality to the Californian who actually enjoys swallowing whole — the latest lies cut out of whole cloth!
So how do those best-years-to-come arrive in a State that is bankrupt, smoky, and burning, often with the lights out?
These days of now remind me of the days of yore, after I boarded a one-way flight in D.C, bound for San Francisco, and, many hours later, stepped into the world of California. I didn’t find much of a middle class. There were the rich doper fat-cats, the sex-crazed elites, the wanna-be’s who wanted to breathe in all of that stardust-air of the Beautiful People, and the accompanying hustlers and snake-oil salesmen trying to rip off all of the previously named.
There were also, all up and down the state and throughout the Central Valley, the hard-working labourers from South of the Border; and the generational poor folks, descendants of the Okies, who toiled for a living, to earn enough money to pay the bills, provide for the wife and children. I still fail to understand why California persists in the cynically skewed and faulty image of a Playground. Sure, Recreation earns top dollar here; but for each skier and boater, for each hiker and party babe, there are hordes of citizens, and small businesses, working and striving for success, and paying taxes, too many of them, so many that the citizen-taxpayer no longer wants to even count them. She hires an accountant, another small business under assault by the anti-gun government ghouls.
During the 1980s, during the 1990s, and then into those heady turn-of-the-century days of the gray Gray Davis — when the problems of today got going and haven’t yet been resolved — the Golden State got rich, and went through a lot of money. A ginormous middle class filled in the Central Valley. A majority of those tract homes got bought by those new non-native arrivers in California, the Mushy-Middle suburbanites who, oooooh, didn’t like politics, didn’t like divisiveness, didn’t like arguing or fighting or confrontation. Peace at any price, just so we all get along.
No one is getting along anymore, and they never really did.
The Left Coast is a crumbling crust of pâté, with people packed in like sardines amidst the rotting infrastructure. The rest of California wants to get as far away as possible from the Crescent, that insufferably pompous voting bloc that dominates how the rest of us live. There was a plan in the 1980s to divide up the state in 3 chunks. It’s now up to a 6-bloc map.
Truckers ramming their big-rigs into the State Capitol are becoming more routine, more nativist. The boilerplate motives of Having a Grudge Against the Governor, and a History of Mental Illness are beginning to sound like a Terrorist Attack explained away as Workplace Violence.
I take a drive along Lake Tahoe, I see more and more bumper stickers that brag
the driver is BORN IN LAKE TAHOE! A LAKE
In California, the nativist sentiment has become so strong, so fortissimo!!! that even Jerry Brown, on Round 3, in 2010 ran on grabbing the Nativist Vote: He’s One of Us!
I honestly could not believe in 2006, when a Gallup pollster called me, for the first and last time, on the LandLine, and asked me what I thought about Jerry Brown running for Governor. I said, just before hanging up: This is a joke, right?
Nope, it wasn’t a joke. The One-Party State had to run a bald-headed, doddering re-tread trougher for the State House! The Petain (Laval) model of puppet government has taken hold among at least one fossilized political party!
The latest idiot in the State House is the political oligarch nephew hoisted a bit too quickly up the greasy pole, and hanging on for his dear political life. He’s the newest shipwreck, an emotional wreck, whom I venture to say, does not spend too much time in California.
You see, the Politicians are the ones who are leaving California. Whoever takes their place — leads the way to the best years to come for a golden state that, according to the latest news reports, has started digging for gold again.