When I realized, so many years ago, that it was time to leave Boston, it felt like a break up. I wrote about it here, and I had so many intense, conflicted feelings about leaving the city. I loved, still love Boston so much, but I also knew that it was time to leave.
Today I sit in my kitchen in my pretty little house in Fresno, maybe, probably for the last time, and once more I feel like I'm breaking up with a city.
But Fresno? Fresno, I never loved you, and I know you never loved me. We had a comfortable relationship, and we understood each other well enough; we stayed together because it was easier to stay than to go, but Fresno and I never had the passion for each other that Boston and I did.
But Fresno has been my home for eight years (almost to the day, in fact) and it feels right that today, rather than think about Orlando, my next relationship, I should stop to acknolwedge what has come into my life because we've lived here:
Thank you, Fresno, for:
- Fall seasons that are fare lovelier than you're given credit for, or than anyone even knows. Although it starts later in the year, Fresno is a riot of fall colors in October, November, December. I will never forget the many perfect moments of happiness I experienced walking my dogs through the neighborhood during the Fall.
- Produce to die for. If you live in the Central Valley, slow food, eating local, supporting local farmers and agriculture, all of those things are possible and to be honest, you don't even have to try very hard. Farmers Markets here are really just that - farmers markets. They aren't craft fairs with a few produce stands. You can do your grocery shopping at our farmers markets. From bread to meat to eggs to cheese to produce, all sourced locally, and of a quality and at a price that makes grocery stores a joke.
- Never having to shovel snow. I'm sure it goes without saying, but after seven years living in Boston, I was ridiculously happy not to have to shovel snow.
- Always being able to find a parking spot. Living in Fresno is just easier than living in Boston. I can get from one side of Fresno to the other side of Clovis in about 25 minutes, and really, nothing is more than 25 minutes away. I can also assume with confidence that I'll be able to find a parking spot wherever I have needed to go.
- A landscape that is far more interesting and varied than most people know. Fresno is the only big city with three national parks within about an hour of it. Do you like to be outdoors? Well, then there's no better place to live. Yosemite? Sure, it's a day trip. Sequoia National Park? Also a day trip. If it's summer and you want to beat the heat, you can be at 7k feet elevation sitting by a lake in two hours.
- A foodie scene that you also never really get credit for. Fresno has some amazing restaurants, and the surrounding cities do as well: Visalia, Fresno, Clovis, and Sanger all have wonderful restaurants that support local agriculture, aren't chains, and serve unbelievable food. No, it's not San Francisco, it's not Boston, it's certainly not New York, but the quality is there and I have enjoyed sharing these little gems with people who have the same prejudice against Fresno that I always had.
- My lovely little home, in my lovely little neighborhood. I've loved living in this house. And as I look around the kitchen, piled high with boxes, I won't deny that part of me wishes I could just unpack all the boxes, rewind the clock, and start all over again. Buying this house made me feel like anything was possible. It was simply so pretty, so perfect for us, and it was something I never thought I'd have. Leaving it doesn't feel like failure, but I leave it feeling that there are things undone, and I'm not even sure yet what those things are.
- My job and the career it's allowed me to develop and the opportunities that go along with it. Eight years ago, I didn't even know that companies like mine existed. And when I started as a proposal writer, I was taking a pretty big step down from what I had been doing in Boston. But here I am now, a Senior Director, and relocating to Orlando to continue this amazing journey.
- Most importantly, my dogs. Of all the things I'm grateful to Fresno for, I am the most grateful for finding the furry loves of my life here. The challenges that the Central Valley face in regard to animal welfare are heartbreaking. With euthanasia rates that are amongst the worst in the nation, the rescues here are fighting an uphill battle. But thanks to their efforts, thousands of dogs and cats are saved from certain death each year. The people who run the Central Valley's various rescue organizations are amazing people, committed to real change here, and I will always be their fervant supporter. They see the possible in these scared and broken animals and they give them what is often their last chance. I have been blessed to share my life with some of the sweet pups that have been pulled out of high-kill shelters and I am a better, more compassionate human being for the experience.
So thanks, Fresno. Thanks for this lovely little house, a great career, and the most amazing little dogs anyone could ever wish for. I didn't love you the same way I loved Boston, but you were very, very good to me, and for that I will always be grateful.