By Janet Payne-Downs
Last Thursday I went to downtown Santa Cruz to meet a friend for an appointment. As many people do, I plopped myself onto a chair in front of Bookshop Santa Cruz and people-watched until my friend appeared. I often forget how much character Santa Cruz has and how fun it is just hanging out on Pacific Garden Mall.
I love Santa Cruz and have lived in the area since 1981. First in Ben Lomond, where I raised my near-perfect children, and now living in a small studio off of 41st Avenue…. my elderly self and lug of a dog, Charlie.
However, in the next year and a half or so I will be moving to the Houston area where I will be near my son and his family. Let me explain.
Fifteen or so years ago on a gloomy February day with tears flowed down my face, I waved goodbye to my son Michael as he headed for Texas driving a sloppily-packed blue vehicle. At the time he did not have much stability nor did he have any tangible goals, so a high school friend invited Michael to Texas to live with him.
When he left that day, I was always certain he would return. Who can resist this gorgeous area? I never considered for a moment that he might fall in love and marry. He and his wife have three children (my grandchildren!) and recently purchased a house in the sweet community of Friendswood, a city about 20 miles south of Houston. They have two Golden Retrievers, a John Deere lawnmower, a turtle, perhaps a hamster… and have promised they will clean out the sweltering toolshed for me if I need temporary housing.
I usually visit about two times a year and after baby #1 was born, I reluctantly began considering living my life there. Until then I could not fathom living in Houston after having lived here for 35 years and in California all my life. My everything was here: friends, job, beauty, belongings, my soul, and an occasional boyfriend…
Michael and his wife Najla were sincere and even eager at the prospect of me living nearby. When babies two and three arrived, just 17 months apart, I put myself on a list for low income housing there in Texas. That was a huge step. In reality I spent many hours and sleepless nights anguishing about this.
I have not necessarily embraced this by any means. But I’m trying to. There are some major obstacles facing this 71-year-old.
So come along for the ride as I slowly begin this life-changing adventure of leaving Santa Cruz.