"Joe, why would you leave California and move to Illinois?"
Well . . I've been asked that many times since I moved to Illinois in August, 1998. First of all, I moved here to live with Tom. There are other reasons, though.

I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area of California in 1975. It was a different place then; a better place, I think. I'm not alone in that belief: others have noticed the changes. Overcrowding, insane real-estate and rental prices, and politically a not-so-subtle shift to the Right, to name a few. The Bay Area started to lose its quirky flavour, and just turned mean.

Later, there was the plethora of inane, ridiculous laws. Laws that brought carpool lanes into existence; Proposition 65, which mandated stupid warning labels on almost everything; and the law that criminalized smoking in bars (ignoring other, truly serious problems). California became the laughingstock of the country, and especially the world.

By early 1998, many of my relations had either passed away or moved back East, and I decided I didn't want to be 2200+ miles away. I found too many places in the Bay Area had memories, not all of them good ones. That's about when I met Tom, and considering he had a large and wonderful family in Illinois (and only six hours away from my family in Kentucky), the decision was made.

So, we began planning . . and in late August, I loaded up all my things (and Tom, who had flown out to help me move) into a 15-foot Ryder truck, and we drove across the country, on whatever remaining pieces of historic Route 66 we could find, and arrived in Illinois a week later.

That's been nearly four years ago, and still I don't miss much of California. I miss the weather (of course!), friends, San Francisco, the ocean, and a few other things. But that's about it. If I start to reminisce, I just remember as well all the things I don't miss. I'm happy here in Heyworth, Illinois, where we now own a house I couldn't have dreamed of in California!

It's a great state still, California . . . but if I'm ever homesick for it, I'm homesick for what it was -- not what it is today. The Eagles were right, though . . . you can check out, but you can never leave.

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