View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: Starting Afresh
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Although only two weeks have passed since I moved from Lodi to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it seems that my twenty years in California's most "lovable, livable" city were a lifetime ago.

And so it has been with each of the five major moves I have made. As a young boy, my family transplanted itself from Los Angeles to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Then I returned stateside to attend boarding school and college.

After graduation, I took my first job in New York. Two decades later, I headed to the Pacific Northwest and from there to Lodi.

Moving is tough.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that leaving Lodi is likely to be my final move—at least I hope it is. While I would like to think that even at my relatively advanced years more new adventures might lie ahead even, I have no interest in going through the physically demanding and emotionally draining process of relocating.

As I packed up years of my accumulated belongings during my final months in Lodi, I involuntarily but inescapably examined my life. Some of my possessions generated positive, happy memories. But others like old photos and letters brought to mind painful losses that we all experience over time.

Each item that I touched triggered the same question: should it be tossed in the trash or come with me?

Even the good things about a move are tough.

Although I live in a bigger and better home, my former house—despite its deficiencies— provided security and tranquility.

Now, the simplest things are foreign to me: the locations of rooms, doors, steps, windows, cabinets, electrical and water outlets.

More packing boxes remain sealed than opened. All in good time, I remind myself.

I miss Lodi and the comfort level that my old community provided.

I knew—but took for granted— where everything could be found, the store hours and the pulse of the city.

I'll soon learn all these things about Pittsburgh but not without a certain effort, even if it may be an unconscious one. 

Most of all I miss—and always will miss—my friends.

Lodi Unified School District classes are back in session and somehow it isn't quite right not to be a part of it.

And what, I wonder, of my dog park pals—both the two, three and four legged ones? As I fondly recall, we traded a lot of good gossip and solved many world problems as we kept a watchful eye on our pets.

We've found a dog park not far from the house. But we don't know anyone by name and haven't yet seen the same people twice.

Despite the initial obstacles and inconveniences, leaving California is the right decision for me.

And based on what I heard from my friends and neighbors before I drove off, many others will be following me as soon as their circumstances permit.

More than anything else, I was weary of California's congestion and its exploding population.

My small Pennsylvania borough has only 1,200 residents. No matter which window I look out from in my new house, I see trees and grass. No construction or development is within miles. Once in a great while, a car drives by.

At night I sit on the porch, listen to crickets and watch the fireflies.

But I'm not stuck in the sticks. By driving only ten minutes, I can be on the highway and on my way to all the diversions of a big city.

I've never regretted any previous move that I've ever made.

During them all, I've held to the same philosophy: to look back with gratitude and love and look ahead with excitement and optimism.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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