Hey California, what's it been, like four years since we broke up?
I've seen you around, you're looking pretty good, and, well, I kind of miss you.
OK, I admit it, I was wrong. I dumped you for a pretty little state up north that was still financially solvent during those heartbreaking recession years, and, yes, I wrote some ugly, albeit true things back then about your high unemployment rate and your "healthcare issues," but you've changed — and for the better. Looking back now, I can see that my judgment might have been clouded because I felt neglected, trapped and unappreciated by you (and Sacramento). Not to mention, we were both broke.
You have to admit you were losing it with all those foreclosures and layoffs. Everyone was talking about it.
Now, though, you're getting your act together. Have you been working out? Because you just posted the steepest decline in unemployment, year to year, of any state. I have to admit that your 8.5%, down from 10.6%, is making you look pretty hot.
And you've reportedly been looking at a state budget surplus figure between $1.2 billion and $4.4 billion. If that doesn't get a girl's attention, I don't know what will.
I ran off with that other state for cheap rent and a newspaper job, but it's losing column inches just like California, and there went my health insurance. Sure, I smiled my way through other jobs, and my book sold pretty well, but I couldn't help thinking about you. Your sunshine was just a memory, as I stared at gray clouds and drove through blizzards in my new state. In May. You know those four seasons other states are always bragging about? Highly overrated.
Sure, gas prices were a little lower, and food too. But no one up here can make a No.1 two-taco plate like your drive-thrus can, and don't get me started on the liquor prices. You may tax everything liberally, but you aren't nuts. My new state rakes in $35.22 per gallon on spirits, the highest rate in the country; you charge $3.30. I mean, these days a girl has to be able to enjoy a cosmo without talking out a loan.
Listen, California, I'll get to the point. Your rising home prices and your new building permits are proving to me that you're really trying to be the take-charge, responsible state I used to know. I mean, look at you helping out the 5 million uninsured Californians by leading the way in implementing Obamacare.
And your economy is recovering at a rate faster than most other states'. Word on the street is that you just reclaimed your title as the world's eighth-largest economy. Talk about pulling yourself out of a depression.
So, I've been thinking that maybe we weren't really broken up, we were just on a break.
So, great news, California, I'm coming back!
That's right. I'm selling my parka and gassing up the all-wheel-drive Subaru and coming home.
I won't be buying a house again — I can't trust any state enough to make that kind of commitment — but my four freelance jobs (two based in California) will afford me the luxury of living just close enough to your beautiful beaches that I'll be able to ride my bike to the boardwalk.
California, I think the time we spent away from each other was important for both of us. I had to walk away to appreciate you again, and I hope you forgive me for giving up on you. I should have known better, and I am sorry.
So let's put the past — and that other state — behind us. I'll see you on the 405.
Candice Reed chronicled her exodus from hard times in California in three earlier pieces in The Times. She and her husband are moving to Orange County this month.
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