What's Your CA Dream?

California Tried to Get Rid of Me - Jill Hocking

In this week's look at What's Your California Dream?, we've been sharing the stories of listeners who have left California behind. In this installment, Jill Hocking explains that California tried to get rid of her.

I moved from Virginia to the north shore of Lake Tahoe in California right after college in 1997. I had never been to the state, but had visions of hot sunny days and blond people. After the long cross-country drive, I couldn't wait to see my new home in Sunny California. However, it rained for a week straight! The floods eventually receded, revealing the bluest sky (and lake) I have yet to see. But I was not prepared for the chilliness once the sun went down. On the 4th of July, I stood shivering in a fleece jacket, watching fireworks from the shore of the lake, wondering where all the blonds were.

California tried to get rid of me. I paid over $1,000 to register my out-of-state junker car due to smog fees. I went swimming in Lake Tahoe and discovered ice-cold waters and sharp toe-biting rocks. I lost my glasses and sprained my ankle learning to cross-county ski. I put chains on my tires on the shoulder of I-80 during an epic El Nino winter.

After 5 1/2 years at Lake Tahoe, I returned to the east coast. My time in California seems like a dream now. I've re-registered my car for $36. When it snows, I don't drive, and there's never enough to ski. In the summer, I make a bee-line for the air-conditioning and imagine dipping my feet (carefully) into the icy blue waters of Lake Tahoe. California wasn't for me, but I'm glad to know it's there.

If you'd like to share your story of finding (or abandoning) the California Dream, use the contact page provided here.



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Good riddance. Anyone who moves to Tahoe without first checking the year round weather and expecting "sunny California" is someone whose expectations will never be matched by reality. We're a huge state, not some kind of Eden. Get real.

Sent by Pat, native Californian and proud of it | 6:21 PM | 7-7-2008

I loved Jill's story. What a delightful narrative of youthful self-confidence, idealism and naivety that would make it seem perfectly sensible to move across the entire country in pursuit of a dream. I did the same thing when I was that age. Rock on.

Sent by John | 9:22 PM | 7-7-2008

I am an educator, and I lived in the Bay area twice and I loved it both times. Lucky for me, my coming and going was a benefit of my spouses corporate moves. With my Midwestern outlook I would never have had the nerve to embrace such a wild child as California without corporate support. What I found in the six or so years I lived there is that California is owned by no one. At least in the Bay, I hardly ever met a native Californian. At most my neighbors and friends were second generation Californian. It isn't a good or bad thing, it just is.

I suspect that some places in the world are places where people go to drink in and use up for their own sustenance rather than put roots down and make a home. California is such a happening place, a place to be and do. It's not like Texas where people live for generations without ever considering Texas other than some sort of external organ necessary for their very survival.

In the late 80's when the price of a barrel of oil was hovering around $10.00 and the real estate collapse in the Houston area was so pronounced that condos were being auctioned off for $0.10 on the dollar, you would think there would be a mass exodus out of the state. No,instead the sentiment was Leave Texas? No way. You see they knew they had a problem, but it was their problem and they were going to stick around and fix it. And they managed to do it without a wholesale dismantling of the social initiatives that had been made in the times of wealth. A collective problem and a collective solution.

In these times of California's state budget crisis where education is being mined for revenues to solve the problems of the present with no thought of the future, can Californian's muster the same Texas sized commitment to its youngest residents?

Sent by Jenny Ankenbauer | 9:31 AM | 7-8-2008

I agree with Pat. California has different climates in different areas of the state. If you expected to move to Tahoe and find paradise, you will, If you're into skiing, gambling, camping and the outdoors.
I am a native Calfiornian who lives in Oklahoma. I live here not because I can't afford California. I could. I intend to move back to California once my business is done here. People who expect California to be "Eden" after they move there should do their homework and quit complaining about our great state. You don't hear Californians who move elsewhere complaining about your state......

Sent by Junior Zuniga | 4:28 PM | 7-8-2008

The tone of this story strikes me, pleasantly, as more wistful and introspective than some of the others broadcasted on this subject. Unlike some other former Californians featured on DAY TO DAY, Ms. Hocking doesn't blame California for not meeting her every expectation, however far-fetched. As far as the land and the people are concerned, California is just a place -- beautiful and flawed as other places are beautiful and flawed. As far as the dream of California is concerned, to paraphase a quotation about another idealized destination, "if you didn't bring California with you, you won't find it here."

Sent by Elizabeth Snow-Nguyen | 3:42 PM | 7-9-2008