This is on my mind because it's clear a few people expect me to be somewhere other than Northern California shortly after I move. I've been told, in so many words, that I should look at San José as a necessary first step on the path somewhere completely different. Conversely, it's been tacitly suggested that I have to go to California to get it out of my system and decide, Dorothy-like, that there's no place like (current) home. "Life's a journey, not a destination," I'm reminded, as if that hasn't been the cliché, more than any other, I seem to have made my own. (The most accurate self-criticism I can make of my life to this point may in fact be that I haven't thought about destinations enough.)
Okay. I don't want to vent, much. I may not spend my next three decades living in places in and around the San Francisco Bay area in a rough parallel of my time around Tampa Bay, but who's to say that I won't? Why be quick to assume that if I'm not in Silicon Valley's heart in a few years, I won't have moved to a cabin in Boulder Creek,* a cottage in Sonoma, a studio over a Berkeley coffee house? I suspect these peculiar anti-pep talks are meant to assure me that the inevitable near-future disappointment is not my fault. Yes, I know I'm embarking on a difficult and uncertain proposition, and I appreciate support. Is equating difficult to impossible, uncertain success to certain failure, really supportive? Would you tell your friend in the talent contest "better luck next time" before the contest had even started?
I don't know where I'll be in five years. But nobody else does, either. I write and speak cautiously, as if saying that I wanted to make life out there work long-term will be a jinx. (I think part of me does believe that, though the rest of me knows that's absurd.) But I've liked the stability of having a fairly constant home base, it's something I intend to have again, and the plan is for it to be where I'm moving to.
I know these friends mean well, and if I do indeed end up in Portland or Santa Fe or, yes, Tampa in six months, I trust they'll be gallant enough not to say "I told you so." In this time and place, though, may I suggest that well-wishes be directed to my move and then to my prospects in San José--not for its value as either a life lesson or a glorified rest stop, but for its own merits?
*Boulder Creek is a small town in the mountains, a bit over 20 miles southwest of San José as the crow flies, that Dave Bryant introduced me to a few years back.