There is something about February that prompts a desperate need for change. Sometimes the change is so easy and natural, that I forget until much later what prompted it. I find an interesting synchronicity about this time of year and many of the changes that occurred in my life.
In February, 1968, while looking at the snow piled up against my office window at Honeywell, I decided to abandon Massachusetts for a warmer climate. At the age of 34, I was heavily into skiing and other winter sports like shoveling snow, but the endless effort to keep a house and family warm and healthy were beginning to pall. It seemed that too much of our effort went into getting warm and staying warm, with not enough time for interesting projects and life in general.
Within a few months, I was working in Ft Lauderdale. The incredible weather and bright sunshine melted the last traces of frost from my bony frame. I lived there for twelve years and watched the bucolic subtropical paradise of early Ft Lauderdale turn into the largest and fastest-growing housing development I had ever seen. The amazing winter weather almost made up for the sweltering tropical heat that ruled the rest of the year.
By February of 1980, I began to realize that the tropical heat exacts its toll on the mind, even as the northern cold wears heavily on the body. I set off to build a new life in California, hoping that the magic promised by the Beach Boys was still available. I headed for Arcadia, a city east of LA and found the climate to be everything I had hoped for. Warm, dry weather and a view of snow-capped mountains greeted me. I felt I was finally home at last.
This euphoria lasted until I saw my first paycheck. I was thunderstruck! I hadn’t realized that life in California was going to be so expensive! Even with a thirty percent raise, I was making so much less in CA than I was in FLA, that I could not meet my financial obligations. I had to make severe changes in my style of living in order to make ends meet. What a shock! Here I was in paradise and I couldn’t afford the tab.
I moved closer to LA and discovered the joys of smog and the constant fall of soot that deposits a gritty pall over everything in the Los Angeles Basin. It was a shock to discover that gritty old New York was cleaner than the streets of Hollywood. Showbiz and it’s prime turf look really tawdry up close.
It took many years of extremely hard work before I could return to a lifestyle comparable to that which I enjoyed earlier.
Around February of 1986, I moved to the beach cities, Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, where I found good weather and clean air. Running on the Strand and soaking up rays in my few spare moments made up for the hard work it took to live there. Living at the beach recharged my spiritual and emotional batteries. The continuing sideshow of beach life made for an interesting, although not exactly peaceful environment.
In February of 1992, I met Gretchen and life immediately got even better. Our marriage in September prompted us to take a longer look at our future. Beach life is like a vacation, exciting, often expensive, but not necessarily renumerative. In February of 1995, the siren call of Silicon Valley prompted our move to San Jose, where we spent the next six years. Finally the internet bubble collapsed and I found myself unexpectedly getting the career change I had wished for.
In February of 2001, we decided to move to Virginia, where the cost of living would be more encouraging for a beginning writer and a soon-to-retire telecommuter. We found a house in March and moved in a few months later.
Once again it is February and I feel the need for change rising like a tide that floats all boats. This time, however, I have the luxury of self-examination through blogging. I have made changes in the past through geographical relocation. This time I am looking for a more spiritual relocation without the need for a geographical shift. I feel we are finally home. It’s time for expansion of our new careers.
Time will tell. I’ll keep you posted.