18 November 2010

Bigger and better ... than California?

One of my best friends (since kindergarten) has been offered an exciting new opportunity on the other side of the country, where houses are one-third the cost they are here in SoCal. His lovely 2,800 sq. ft. home here in Los Angeles recently sold for about $750k, whilst the bigger 4,000 sq. ft.model homes he and his lovely wife are looking at on the East Coast are going for a little above $250k -- fully furnished to help close the deal ... and such a deal. (Btw, these homes are the signature homes of a large, high-end home builder, not some schmaltzy remnants of a slipshod company.)

I picked him up at LAX upon his return from this East Coast trip where they offered him the gig (following a national search out of roughly 600 candidates), and after a quick (and de rigueur) stop at In-n-Out Burger next door to the airport, I shuttled him home via Malibu in my MKX to remind him of what he'll soon be leaving behind: a perfect 73 degrees on the coast (in mid-November); seeing Paul Allen's impressive yacht, Octopus (one of the largest private vessels in the world with crew of 60, two helicopters, and two submarines. Last week I watched as one of the helicopters landed on the rear of the ship with surfers aplenty providing perspective in the foreground.) anchored off of billionaire row on Malibu's Carbon Beach; sun-kissed beach activities; fantastic restaurants; and canyons and mountains with their winding roads nestled next to pristine coastline that never cease to inspire middle-aged blokes with thick middles to think back upon gossamer dreams of a misspent youth.

(There's also The Coffee Bean that I'd be hard-pressed to leave behind, where I occasionally do some writing, take a meeting, drink some light drip coffee with a scoop of vanilla powder and where I recently spied Elizabeth Moss from Mad Men, Minnie Driver, and Diane Neal from NCIS and Law and Order minding their own business and not being bothered, thank you very much. Gotta love L.A.)

But, he's not chasing a dream with this probable move, but rather securing the next stage of his career and improving the lifestyle for him and his wife and their daughters. He'll take on a staff and budget roughly triple the size he had here. Both of their beautiful and talented and funny (and sarcastic) daughters are in college (one film school, and the other ready to start grad school), so there's no family concerns to keep him local. And, upon finishing his own graduate degree next year he'll be ready to finally publish the material for the two or three books he already has compiled (if only he had an editor! His wife and I have been encouraging him for almost 10 years to write his first book). To borrow a phrase from President Obama (and the backers of the "stimulus package"), his career is shovel-ready for a meteoric rise into the mesosphere. I'm so proud of him.

Moves across the country are an interesting conundrum (moving across town is tough enough). One of our dear blogger friends (the redoubtable Ms. Deb over at Dumbwit Tellher) recently considered a move out of country, to Scotland, I believe. If she did go, she would raise the level of my impression of expats considerably. When I moved to Virginia for grad school, it was four years of sheer enjoyment (and about a year of hell). Hell because it was law school and tough and my brother died and my marriage was fraying. Sheer enjoyment because my ex and I both loved the area, the weather, our first son was born there and we used to have picnics in our large backyard under our elm tree with our son and our dog, Mr. Beebe (before the tornado topped it with an unreal brute force, leaving it looking forlorn with a bad, asymmetrical haircut). At some point a few years back, we both admitted that had we stayed in Virginia we'd most likely still be married. It was an odd, though refreshing moment. She also revealed around this time (of our nuptial demise) her regret for not encouraging me (and trusting) to pursue my writing rather than a degree in law. Late-coming, back-handed compliments are better late and backward than never I guess.

When you "go for it," trying to improve your lot in life (like my childhood pal), there's that moment before the roller coaster of life drops you into zero gravity, when your stomach and heart and mind ask, "what the hellll?!" as you plummet into the unknown. Taking the plunge like that is good, but consider the cost of what you're undertaking. Jesus gave us the metaphor of the builder of the tower and its attendant costs. Go for it, take the plunge, build the tower, make the move, but consider those pesky costs. You could: lose a marriage or a job or a house over it. You just might also: Make that million. Find that husband. Earn that MBA from Harvard. Write that screenplay. Or start a new life on the East Coast with nothing but upside.


Caleb S. Garcia said...

This was a fantastic read, filled with personality and charm, it made my day and inspired me.

"gossamer dreams of a misspent youth" should be the title of your biography lol.

Alexandra said...

I think I'll end up in California, but East Coast is where my dreams are made of right now!

Karena said...

Very interesting....we do have to folow our dreams though!!

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Char said...

if i didn't have family that i adore, i would be in seattle (i think) or maybe north carolina. that's two ends of the spectrum.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Wow..JGregg, you gave ole' redoubtable Deb much to think about. First, thank you for that very kind compliment. Let us see if I can live up to it? I do worry that such a move will change many important dynamics; especially those with my now adult children. You & your friend go way back; what great memories you must have together? I loved what you wrote when you stated that "he'll not be chasing a dream, but securing the next stage of his career". I know this move is a good one financially for us, as well as providing that well needed injection of adventure; life as become stagnant. My biggest fear growing up was the fear of being 'normal'. I never wanted to live in a cul-de-sac in suburbia and have play-dates or 'do' coffee. Although I don't 'do' coffee, I made it and I do live in suburbia. But like your dear friend, my kids have left the fold & my life can be uncharted waters once again. As for my fellow Seattlitte Paul Allen, my life will never be that exciting. I would take an In & Out burger over a yacht any day. You are right though, gotta love LA.

Just think of my impending move as now you will have a place to stay should you have a desire for haggis & bagpipes, or perhaps a single malt scotch?

So glad you are back posting again.

Cheers x Deb

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

I loved every word and of course, the Deb mention!! Brilliant, again. ; )

Barbara said...

I don't know where on the east coast your friend is, but it sure can't be NYC. $$$$$!!
And he's fortunate to have SOLD his home....buying is a snap.

Taking chances with your career is frightening, but the only way to go. Risk has rewards.

So pleased you are posting again, JG!

Emm said...

I'm love to know what your impression of expats was before!!! Making the move to UK put incredible strain on our marriage. We got to the point where we eventually had to outlaw any talk of divorce in our very frequent fights because of it. Once we realsied that we actually had to live with the other person after a big fight, they kind of fizzled out and we are super boring and settled now.