Many people questioned our sanity when we started talking about moving from Los Angeles to Raleigh. We lived in LA for 11 years…the longest we had lived anywhere. It is where our fabulous friends are, our three favorite Trader Joe’s, the best furniture store (HD Buttercup), and our standby Chinese delivery restaurant. It is the “community” we’ve become ingrained in. Our drive to work took us through Beverly Hills, past Rodeo Drive and all the obscene wealth the city has to offer. My office (when I was there) overlooked the Hollywood sign, and my brilliant husband spent his days in a lab at UCLA wearing flip flops and shorts and eating lunch outside in the permanently beautiful weather.
My job took me around the country and around the world so fast and so often that I spent uncountable hours in planes and airports. I could navigate the route from home to LAX in my sleep (and sometimes did). I knew the United counter personnel by name and the best seats on a 747. I knew which airport lounges were the quietest, had the most stable wireless, had free wine, a shower, and the best food. LAX can get you anywhere – direct to Hong Kong and Manila (Tagalog anyone?) or back to Appleton, Wisconsin to see my beloved family.
We celebrated many birthdays and anniversaries in Los Angeles, including our 10th with a huge costume party and a vow renewal on Halloween. We drove up the coast to Santa Barbara, to Big Sur, to Cambria, to Carmel. We drove down to San Diego and to Mexico. If we wanted to go to Ikea, we could ask – which one? A Home Depot Expo center? No problem, there are many. Outlets, high-end boutiques, promenades, warehouses, markets…there is everything and anything. Restaurants representing every culture, every cuisine and every price point can be found. Sushi for breakfast, vegan for lunch, steak at the restaurant owned by Harrison Ford’s son for dinner. Whatever the hour and whatever your taste, there is something.
So why leave? We bought, remodeled and sold two houses, lived in five others, acquired an amazing dog (The Iona Pig), received our master’s degrees (almost a PhD for Michael), had a couple career changes, and came out of our twenties and into our mid-thirties in one of the most diverse cities on Earth. And we were tired, poor, and over it.
But Raleigh, you ask? Seriously? There is no Bloomingdales! No real international airport! No Pacific Sales! No Pacific Ocean! Yes, you are correct. And it is here that we found affordable houses in great historic neighborhoods (or brand new ones if you prefer), wonderful public schools for the children we do not yet have, access to the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains, and all the hospitality that a California girl with her heart in Wisconsin can handle.
This is the place we choose to live, and this is our story of making it home.