On the Move During COVID-19

Pre-COVID-19, I recently made one of the biggest decisions of my life…

…to relocate from Southern California to Northern California. It was not an easy decision, unlike when I moved from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles in my 20’s; I’d lived in L.A. as a little girl and always knew I wanted to go back. Sure, I would miss family and some good friends. But two of my best friends were already in L.A. And I had no qualms about leaving rain, snow, humidity, and mosquitos; old brick buildings covered in soot from burning coal; streets full of potholes from snowplows; and what had come to seem like the angry pinched faces of people who didn’t get enough sun. Plus, like I said, I was in my 20’s. I was up for adventure. And I was made for L.A., baby! Beaches and mountains and deserts. Nightclubs and museums and poetry readings. Camping and hiking, dancing and karaoke. Friends and enemies and frenemies. Men. Lust. And love.

But as I’ve gotten older, L.A. has gotten harder. Like pollution, which got better after the environmental regulations of the ‘70’s (which, by the way, Trump is in the process of destroying, and it’s gotten steadily worse). Then the heat, which with global warming gives more and more days of 100+ degree temperatures – whew! There’s urban sprawl: electric lines and billboards and strip malls and apartment buildings and massive housing developments spreading like a blight across the landscape. Yeah, I saw that ugliness and how it’s hard to even take a decent snapshot with all that crap in the way, but I guess I looked up at the mountains more. Because those were not big factors in my decision to leave.

What’s gotten hardest for me relates to all those things, though. It’s the sheer number of people who, like me, have chosen to live there. And nowhere is it more representative than in cars on the freeways. Freeways which people joke are like parking lots. But which are no joke when you’re stuck on one, crawling along or even sitting still when you need to be somewhere else (and who has the algorithm on how much time to allow for THAT?) Or when surrounded by SUVs and monster trucks who guffaw at concepts like 65 mph and turn signals. Or when – and fortunately this never happened to me, but it did happen to people I know – something really serious happens, like a fatal accident that shuts the freeway down for five hours (always carry water!), or an earthquake that sends an overpass crashing (EXTRA WATER!!!)

That’s what got hardest for me about L.A. My adopted home of so long ago. City of the Angels which I have loved all these years for its sunshine and color, diversity, languages, ethnic food, jazz and salsa. I got so I dreaded going anywhere that involved a freeway. And so much of L.A. involves a freeway, or two, or three.

Still, even traffic wasn’t my reason to leave, either. It was just a factor. The real reason is that I don’t have family in L.A. I do have many friends, and colleagues of many years, and something more recent, as I got back into creative writing, a literary community. Friends and colleagues and community are great! They bring so much joy and meaning to life. But here’s the thing: they also have lives of their own. Their own friends and colleagues and communities, and especially, family. For most of us, when we need help with whatever, we can call on those others. But for the big stuff, and especially as we get older, we need family.

My family is now in Northern California, and that was the main reason for my move.

I wasn’t entirely happy about making that decision. Besides the people I have in SoCal, I would be leaving a home I loved. It was in a location I never thought I could afford, tucked away in a hidden little corner of the foothills with a view of the mountains; I was fortunate to buy when prices in that area were still relatively low. It was also nicer than any place I’d had before – spacious, with a big kitchen (I love cooking), master en suite, huge party room (that previous owners used just for TV – WHY???) and plenty of space for overnight guests. Over time I was able to personalize it to my taste. I put in a lap pool and jacuzzi, privacy walls for nude swimming-or-whatever, colorful cushions and shade to escape that SoCal sun, music system with indoor/outdoor speakers (my poor neighbors), and a funky/classy/homey mix of art and furniture. The bar was always stocked, there were three crockpots for my semi-famous chili, and karaoke could be fired up in a hot minute.

Oh yeah, I loved that house. And all the many memories I bring from there. Because I sold it. The good news is that I sold it to a friend. I’ve had mixed feelings looking at the pictures she sends of how she’s decorating differently. At first she thought she had to ask my permission! But I told her I want her to settle in and make it her own, like I did. As long as she always has a bed available for yours truly to visit. 😉

Now I’m in NoCal. Another interesting twist to the story of how my friend bought my home is how another friend up here just happened to have the house next door to her (which she owns and rents out) come up vacant. And I moved in! It’s an adorable 1923 cottage. My quirky belongings fit right in. So, I’ve got a pal next door. Family nearby. And even a couple other friends not too far away. I’m all set to create a new life, explore my environment, meet new people, start building a writing community, maybe even find love again.

And then … a coronavirus pandemic struck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

(to be continued)

35 thoughts on “On the Move During COVID-19

    • what a lovely story! I would love to be that brave, to be able to move somewhere completely new although you lived there when you were younger but either way it is still scar. Moving to a whole new area away from family and friends. I am happy that you were able to fulfill both of your dream. Living in LA then going back with family.

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      • Actually no, I never lived in Sacramento before. I lived in LA as a young child and then went back in my 20’s. But never Sacramento and only have my sister and a couple friends here – but I’m grateful for them! As far bravery, you never know how you’ll face life’s challenges.

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  1. Hi Lynda I’m so proud of you. You’re so brave. I’m mad at you because you went away and left me and you showed me how I took you for granted. I love you, I miss you. I’ll figure out a way to write it all down maybe even come and visit. Love you, Ena

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    • Ena I just saw this! I love you too. I’m sorry that my getting older has taken me away. But yes, please get it down! And for sure come visit!

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  2. Transitions are crazy at every age we make them! I’m in my twenties and although people tell me I have the time, I still rethink most of my decisions before settling in. I moved into an affordable apartment with a pool, gym, and basketball court that, thanks to the Coronavirus, I haven’t even been able to access them! Such a bummer, but I remind myself to at least appreciate the move went smoothly and I can only wait until things get better.
    PSA: Wear those masks! Let’s stay safe to put Covid behind us.

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  3. Transitioning to a new place is hard! I’m glad that you get to experience LA when you were younger and when it was less crowded. I would not want to move away from LA even though there is a lot of pollution and a lot of people. I am just so used to the lifestyle and it is just hard to change.

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  4. Thank you for those tips on the water! Preparing for unexpected emergencies rarely crosses our minds. But I also think it is telling, when tourists ask us SoCal natives/residents how far something is, because we don’t usually respond with a distance, we respond with how much time it’ll take to get there! Like, “it’s only 15min away” (even if it’s a mile away). I definitely understand the debate that you had in yourself when deciding whether you should move or not, family is a big deal. As I pursue my options in graduate programs, my mother is starting to fear that she will have to find alternative routes of transportation to doctor’s appointments, because I was the only daughter who is ready and willing to take my parents. It does sound that you left your home to a loving friend and that you have been welcomed home by another!

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    • It’s understandable that your mom is wondering who will take the place of you as her helper, but I hope she investigates this so you can go to the best school for your future. Yet … as you say, family is important. I feel some sadness about my transition, but mostly it has been OK or at times even good! Thanks for reading.

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  5. Just the luck with the pandemic hit, while the Trump distruction progresses! Although against all odds, it seems so much more that your move is in your favor when it comes to feeling like home; I think family is everything. I’ve seen that friends, to a degree, come and go, but family ideally should always come first or be there. Your house in L.A. sounds awesome! It’s like the venue of everything for hospitality!

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  6. Moves and change in general can be difficult and scary by themselves to handle. Let alone you are navigating a move to a whole new city in the midst of a pandemic, cudos to you. It’s nice that you have family and friends up in Nor Cal though to help settle you in and welcome you. I understand how it could feel sucky to not be able to fully explore and dive into the beauties of what I hear is Nor Cal. I hope once everything is back to normal and safe again, that you share all the travels and experiences you make in your new home!

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  7. I used to live in San Jose and now I live in Los Angeles. I really think the weather in Northern California is much better than in Southern California. It’s fresher and more humid. The first month I came to Los Angeles, I got nosebleeds every day.

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  8. Hi professor Lynda, The pool of your old home looks awesome, and the scenery here looks very beautiful, living here must be enjoyable and cozy:) Hope you are used to the life of your new home and the city! I and my family also moved from our original home to a smaller house that is more suitable, during the epidemic buying and selling real estate became a common thing.

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    • Thank you, I am getting used to my new place. I will be happier here after I am vaccinated, and many others are vaccinated, and things begin to open up. Then I can really explore my new city. I hope you like your new home as well.

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  9. Reading about your adventure in your 20s sounds so exciting! It’s sort of ironic because sometimes I fantasize about moving from CA to somewhere where it snows, like PA or CT but I’ve never even been there so it’s all just a far fetched idea. In all seriousness, I do think about leaving CA but my family lives here and that would be a very hard transition for me. My husband says he’s up for the adventure but with two small children it would be (emotionally) hard moving away from my parents. I hope you’re able to make new lovely memories in NorCal.

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    • Glad you enjoyed my reminiscing, and thanks for the good wishes! I can tell you that living in snow is way harder than the fantasy, but people get used to it. I totally understand how hard it would be to leave your family.

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  10. I have only lived in LA after immigrating to the US but it has been getting more and more “unlivable” as you mentioned about pollution, yet many still comes in for better job opportunities and the weather, making it super crowded. I loved that it is so convenient to the mountains and beaches; and you can practically get any types of cuisine from around the world. However, I feel that it will probably be more manageable to move out of California if I want to own a home in the future. Wishing you a lot of explorations after the pandemic is over!

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    • Everything you say about the wonders of LA is true and why I loved living there, until the sheer number of people has made it uncomfortable. And of course, housing is unreachable for many. I hope you are able to achieve the American Dream, and thanks for the good wishes.

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  11. Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog! I felt like as if I was going through your whole thought process and a part of your experience as well. I think going to LA is fun and a great experience when you are young, but even as a youngster myself, I believe as you age, your experience there is seemingly not as great. I do not live in LA, but I live in the LA county and the traffic is horrible, so I can relate to that problem. However, despite this tough decision, I am glad everything worked out well for you! Sometimes you do not know what the future holds, but that’s also a beauty as well because you gain a new learning experience. Thank you for sharing this chaotic yet calculated decision and process!

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, the traffic anywhere around LA is definitely daunting. No one likes it, but older people especially need to have less stress. Now I can get across town in 10 minutes! LOL. Thanks for reading.

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  12. Hi! I had fun reading your blog. I never thought of bringing water in my car. I was so careless about the traffic now got better because people stay home during pandemic. I think I need to bring water with me and leave it in the car in case of a traffic jam. I think NoCal is more peaceful than SoCal? I’m not sure but It is so green! The first time I got there, I was in Lake Tahoe. So green and fresh air and woods! I love nature. I will be back to NoCal when I have a chance. I understand that family is always in your priority. I hope you are happy staying in NoCal. Thank you for an interesting blog.

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    • If we were driving together, you would definitely have water in the car, LOL. So do yourself a favor and always carry some. Yes, I do find it more peaceful in my new city. It’s still a city but I can get anywhere in 15 minutes. Not the case in SoCal! And there are trees everywhere and really interesting architecture. I’ve never been to Tahoe, but I’m sure I’ll go and find it lovely.

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  13. Moving is a great decision. It brings room to grow! Although, you may cherish old memories in Southern California, you will also make new memories in Northern California.

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  14. I could not agree more with what you had to say. I just feel that everything that has to do with the environment is just getting worse and worse everyday at this point not even ever year. I feel that no one is listening and when they do decide to listen (if that day ever comes) it will be to late. In my opinion I do not understand why people think it is so great over here in Socal I would rather want to move out to a different state and see and experience something new for a change. Oh yea and also I F****N hate this pandemic too.

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  15. After reading this article I was inspired and uplifted because you chose the path that was best for you. I am pretty sure we can all agree that we must make the smarter, healthier, and better decisions for ourselves at times. You moved because your family resides in NoCal and being around family makes an environment feel like home.

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  16. Transitions and moving are always difficult but I’m glad things were not too bad. California is so beautiful it is sad when people say it is just all traffic and youtubers because it is such a melting pot for so many cultures. I guess only us natives really appreciate it, I as well would not want to live anywhere else.

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  17. I was born and raised in Southern California and I love it here even thought the houses are very very expensive. I rent, and until about 5 years ago, my mom was able to buy her first home in Victorville. I live in San Gabriel Valley, and go fo weekend visits to the high dessert to visit my mom. I’ve considered moving to El Paso, Texas because I have a lot of family there, and my mom even considered buying there because of the house costs. But in no other state do we have the desert, mountains, beach, and not extreme weather like we do in California. I’ve only visited Sacramento and San Francisco and it is beautiful, at least you can head south and have somewhere to stay when you do so. It seems like it all worked out for the best, even where you’re at now, sounds very nice.

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