Updated: Oct 24, 2020
There is also plenty to love about California which I am grateful for. I love San Diego and the Santa Monica/Venice Beach area of Los Angeles and would have gladly lived in either place if it had been possible. The missions, the mountains, West Coast Highway 1, Yosemite, Death Valley, Muir Woods, Napa, Carmel, Tahoe, Santa Cruz and many other places provide abundant natural beauty. But it was clear that the pressure of so many people being drawn to live in all that beauty, sunshine and tech driven prosperity was taking a toll on the natural resources and driving up the cost of living to a breaking point.
And speaking of people, I need to acknowledge and state my appreciation for the many diverse students, families, teachers, administrators and others I met who were incredibly interesting, kind, generous and thoughtful. They made a difference in my life and I will miss them.
In 2014 I started envisioning an escape to a place I could confidently call home, but the cards were not yet quite right to make such a move. What life denied, art supplied in the form a piece I wrote called A Distant Shore: A Musical Narrative for Piano in Five Episodes. The five episodes portray a trajectory which gathers force and momentum as they move from a technological/profit driven world to an elusive world informed by the human heart. Music provided the sanctuary I yearned for and imaginatively transported me to a better place.
By 2016, we finally had a plan and the resources to make our escape. This time we booked a flight to the East Coast with our cats, shipped our cars on a trailer, and our belongings in a POD and headed back to the place we began our odyssey six years earlier. (Have you ever tried taking cats through the airport TSA checkpoint? It's not for the fainthearted.)
All in all those six years provided a beneficial experience. It was good for me to test and validate my resilience and musical mettle starting over in a new environment, and I learned many things from the people, places and situations we encountered. And last, but not least I benefited from a better first hand understanding of the places my wife and her family grew up and lived in. And oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention. Not one earthquake while we were there! (But five different dentists in six years. Oy!)