As I'm at a crossroads in my life, I feel torn about this small part of the world...where Cal Poly entrepreneurs triumph in every corner of the county, carving out opportunities...where farmers' agricultural pursuits sprout up in every corner, dotting the landscape, providing a feeling that we have everything we need right here in our own backyard...where my age group is a minority. As a 38-year-old-going-on-40 transplant from up north who continues to struggle in paradise, I wonder where I fit in and if I ever will.
But as I think about the last several years, I can’t imagine who I would be without my experiences in this dreamland; SLO County spoils me more with each passing year. My 3-minute commute to work, races on the beach, short drives to some of the best wineries anywhere, a feeling of safety and sense of community—who can complain? The irony of never having wanted to move to this expensive tourist destination (where once-upon-a-time I never considered any possibility of carving out a life for myself in a county of only around 265,000, where the average price of a home was—and still is—beyond the reach of most) still weighs on me. But a conscious decision led me to move to this small, isolated region of the world in the middle of nowhere, where my immediate family had emigrated in search of a better life, and here I still am: living, working, achieving, and dreaming in a county that originally never appealed to me.
As I continue with my SLO life—eight or nine years later—I wonder if I’ll ever feel settled here and my thoughts drift to a different version of me, one where I never appreciated the coastline or smell of salt in the air, where I never understood the difference between the local geographic pockets and grape varietals grown, where I never knew what I was capable of. As I head down my path and wonder where the shadow of my current trail will lead, I can't help but wonder...will I stay or will I go?
I don’t pretend to know where life will take me, but one thing I do know about this dreamland is my discovery and appreciation for what is here: the amazing friends I’ve made; the generosity of this tight-knit county; my own self discovery; the unique products and services I’ve discovered through my community involvement. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe, I will continue to seek out the innovative…the delicious…the SLO-made products, services, and traditions. For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.
All Text and Photos Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.