My Wife, Marie and I have had a very eventful 2022. The most obvious event was moving from California to North Carolina. The transition has been interesting to say the least. Our wonderful neighbors have invited us to various clubs and groups in a genuine effort to not only be neighborly, but to help us become a part of the community. It’s sort of amusing, we’re always introduced as coming from California. Then someone will invariably ask, why did you choose to move to North Carolina, and in particular why did you decide to relocate to Tarboro? It’s like they can’t believe we would actually want to leave California. Truthfully, I expected a few cold shoulders from people when they learned where we came from. California has a reputation of being “the land of fruits and nuts,” mainly because of the large Alphabet Mafia community (and no I’m not homophobic, thank you), and shall we say mentally challenged groups of individuals (also called the State Assembly) that make the Golden State their home. The exact opposite of the cold shoulder is the real truth however and while a lot of people do look at us as though we just arrived from Mars, it’s because they have no idea of what life is like in California. They have no conception of how bad it’s become. Still despite all that, we’ve been welcomed graciously and warmly by everyone we’ve met. The townsfolk here, as a rule are very accepting of new comers, probably due to the fact that a lot of the residents here are transplants themselves with quite a few escapees from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, just not too many from Cali.
As with everything here in Tarboro, the differences between this town and our old town, especially during the holiday season, are night and day. Tarboro has a population of around 11,000 people. There are neighboring towns that border Tarboro, including one called Princeville, which has the distinction of being the first independently founded and governed African American community chartered in the United States. Still the overall population for the area is below 20,000. I bring this up because the town of Tarboro held a Christmas parade that lasted almost 2 hours and the crowd lined up and down Main Street in 30 degree weather. It seemed like everyone in the area was there. There is nothing like this in Rohnert Park. There, during the Christmas season, they string lights on some trees on the main drag, they look nice but it’s nothing like what goes on here. Another huge difference is in the attitude of people during the holidays. With all the holiday hustle and bustle going on, people in California, generally, are not very friendly when you’re out and about doing your errands and shopping, especially when it comes to driving, or even just trying to find a parking space. I was invited to a “Golden Seniors” meeting, where they had a representative from the town of Tarboro, relaying what all is going on, in terms of business development and upcoming events. At the end she mentioned about how everyone needs to be careful driving because of increased traffic congestion. I laughed to myself, thinking lady, you have no idea what real congestion is. When it takes 20 minutes to drive 2 miles across town, and you feel glad that you don’t have a firearm with you because you would be sorely tempted to use it on some dumbass that stole your parking space, then you’ll know what real congestion is. The overall attitude, and I’m not saying this applies to everyone, is very self-centered in California. Whereas here, people still say hello, and get this, they actually say “Merry Christmas”, which if you say it to the wrong woke person in California might get you cancelled or even worse “Karen-ed” (I will always remember the time when a gal on her bike called me a terrorist for not wearing my face diaper outside, in the sun!)
The one thing I really miss about California, aside from being able to physically talk with my family, is the weather. As I’m writing this, the huge arctic blast is starting to pummel North Carolina, with lows into the teens and 25 to 30 mph gusts bringing the wind chill temperatures to below zero. In the bay area, if the low temps hit the 20’s it was a rare event. The expected highs for the next couple of days are predicted to be below freezing. We always appreciated how lucky we were to live in such a temperate climate like the bay area, it really is unique, never really too hot for long periods, never really too cold, not very humid, it really was a blessing. Still, it’s far better here than it is in Iowa where my son and his family live, he texted me saying the wind chill is sinking temps to -41, no thanks! I asked him how he deals with it, and he said you just get used to it, but I don’t know if I could ever get used to that.
So , this is our first Christmas away from friends and family, and I have to say it’s been a bit of a struggle, as both Marie and I have dealt with bouts of homesickness. For myself, I don’t usually deal with the holidays very well anyway, I hate how Christmas has become so commercialized. I would only put up outdoor decorations reluctantly, and with all the kids grown and moved out, the last few years have never really felt like Christmas. While that fact remains the same, here in Tarboro the sense of community draws you into the holiday spirit. I willingly hung some lights, and put up a couple of small (fake) trees in our dinning room windows. Almost all of the houses in our neighborhood have decorations, a ten foot tall Santa or Snoopy in a front yard is not uncommon, and a whole lot of people light up the trees in their yards. There are so many of what can only be described as mansions here in Tarboro. Huge old historic homes with 8 or more windows facing the street are everywhere and the homeowners put wreaths and candles in all the windows. It’s very, very traditional, which also helps foster the holiday spirit. It reminds me of scenes from the movie “A Christmas Story”. There is nothing quite like a small town Christmas in the Bible belt, it reinforces the “reason for the season,” which to a large degree has been lost in other places. You’ll see people putting out signs in their yard saying “Jesus, is the reason for the season” or other faith affirming placards. Even in the poorer parts of town people put out lavish decorations. In Petaluma California we used to take a trip every year to see the row of Victorian houses lit up along D Street, it was really beautiful, there were perhaps maybe a dozen houses lit up and traditionally decorated. Here, there are dozens of houses done that way, old historic buildings with fantastic architecture are everywhere, and it’s truly a sight to see. It makes being homesick easier to deal with, but it doesn’t take it away entirely.
We’ve been truly blessed with our move to North Carolina. There is no other way to describe how everything fell into place, from how our home in Ca. sold, to how we found our place here. The cross-country journey with 3 dogs, a cat and 2 vehicles, one of which was a 15 foot U-Haul that was not much fun to drive was an adventure I’ll never forget. It seemed like every day was a death-defying act, and I am not overstating that. The only plausible explanation, is Gods hand in it all. Every day on our journey we tried to start it off with a prayer, and every evening when we reached our hotel room, we finished it by giving thanks. For some reason God wants us here, that is undeniable, what that reason is, is something that we have to figure out, whether it’s just to get us away from all the crap in California, or whether God has a specific plan for us, I don’t know…yet. One thing for sure, God knows what a thick-headed dope I can be, and has shown no qualms about reminding me of that fact. I’ve learned that if I just try and be aware of things happening in my life, Gods purpose for me and my family will be revealed, and it’ll probably be a “duh, why didn’t I realize that earlier” kind of reaction. For now, despite the homesickness, despite my bouts with seasonal depression, I feel blessed to be able to spend this Christmas here in a home that I own outright, in a town that has welcomed my wife and I with open arms.
I imagine that there will always be a part of me that will miss California. I tell people when they ask why we left, that it was because they took the greatest state in the union and turned it into a kind of dystopian nightmare. When the town where I was born, Chester, almost burned to the ground because of California’s disgusting mis-management of her natural resources, that may have been the last straw. California, despite all of its many, many, many issues, is still one of the most gorgeous places in the world. I will always remember going up to Mount Vision and watching the sunsets over Pt. Reyes having a few brews with my brother. The trips on the bay Marie and I took on her nieces sail boat, a 3 masted schooner dubbed “The Freda B” in honor of my Marie’s mother. You can sometimes see the ship anchored in McCovey Cove during Giant games. I’ll always treasure my blessing of being born and spending the first decade of my life in Plumas County, which in my opinion is the absolute perfect place for a kid to grow up, the word idyllic is a perfect description. The Sonoma County coastline is incredible. The whole California coast itself, from Mexico to Oregon is something everyone should experience at least once. I could go on and on, which is why I’m a bit bitter about the state these days. I’m trying to not get too political with this blog, but the one-party rule that has governed California for so long has ruined it, not just for my wife and I, but also for the millions of other Californians who just couldn’t take it anymore. We had to move, economically we just couldn’t survive there any longer, but I can think of no better state then North Carolina to relocate. Like Ca, it has remarkable natural beauty, the climate is tolerable, yes there are more extremes here, but by and large it’s nothing that can’t be dealt with. The people here seem to be the biggest difference, and it’s that difference that makes me glad I can call N.C. my new home. California could learn a lot from North Carolina, but I doubt they ever will. With that in mind, with all my heart, I want to thank all you brave souls that have read my blogs throughout this year, and wish all of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a happy and prosperous New Year. Thank Y’all so much!!!
FOR ALL OF MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, A HEARTY, HO, HO, HO AND ROCK ON Y’ALL!