By Ashok B. Boghani
PASADENA, Calif.–After living in the Boston area for decades, we decided to move to California. The main reason was that both our children have ended up in the Los Angeles area, so it was getting hard for us to see them and our granddaughter. Besides we wanted to spend more time on the West Coast and enjoy what it has to offer.
So, we sold our house in Acton and moved. However, before settling down on the other coast, we spent more than a year living out of suitcases and travelling the world. Even within the Los Angeles area, we stayed in eleven different Airbnbs before selecting Pasadena as the town where we would plant new roots.
So, after getting a place to live in Pasadena, we began getting to know people, participating in local events, and enjoying what this lovely town contains. It offers a well-run Senior Center, several health clubs, a very good library system, free lectures at Caltech, performances by Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, several gardens and parks with lots of green spaces, many non-profits where we can offer our services and make new friends, and the San Gabriel Mountains where we can hike to our heart’s content. There is also an active restaurant scene with many places to eat and drink. We quickly started making friends and getting involved with all types of activities. We started hiking on nearby trails in the mountains.
Then Covid hit us, just as it did the rest of the world. Almost everything closed down. No Senior Center, no symphony, no lectures to attend, no restaurants to go to. Worse, with a lock-down in place, we were afraid that our budding social relationships with new friends will get snuffed out. However, after a few weeks the hiking trails reopened and we were able to resume outdoor activities with masks on. We were also able to meet our new friends outdoors while maintaining social distance.
Then a record breaking heatwaves hit us. The temperature went soaring into 113-degree range. Hiking on exposed trails became impossible. We were confined to walking just in the neighborhood, and that too early morning or late in the evening.
Finally, came the season of forest fires. One of the worst in California’s history. As I write in mid- September, one major fire in the Los Angeles
area is right in our backyard…in San Gabriel Mountains, where we go hiking. Tens of thousands of acres are already gone with no end in sight. The smoke from the fire has made our air quality quite poor and even dangerous. Now our daily walks have come to a stop. We can’t even sit outside for a drink or relax.
However, there are many reasons to be grateful and not whine amidst these cascading challenges.
First, we are grateful that we haven’t contracted that dreadful disease, unlike so many others who were not that lucky. Also, as we are retired, we don’t have to be concerned about paychecks, or getting exposed to people at workplace.
Second, once the heatwave subsides and the fires start getting extinguished, we will resume hiking again. We will again be able to meet at our friends in our patio. Fortunately, our children have been a part of our “pod” and so we have been able to continue to spend time with them even during the pandemic.
Third, we are grateful that we are not forced to work outdoors, unlike our gardener, señor Guadalupe, who comes every Wednesday and cuts grass even amidst these horrid temperatures and air quality. We have a choice to relax in our airconditioned house.
Fourth, we are grateful that our house is not under an imminent threat of catching fire (although we are ready to evacuate if the order to do so comes down). We can occupy ourselves indoors as have quite a few hobbies and learning activities. We have lots of friends and family members who we can talk to and do FaceTime with. There are Zoom calls to participate in.
Finally, we are grateful that we have each other, unlike the single folks in our neighborhood who admit that they are going stir crazy.
While this year has brought some unexpected difficulties, uprooting and moving anywhere new is always a challenge. We miss the splendid fall and the fluffy white snow of New England. We miss the biking trails and sparkling crisp days. Most of all, we miss our friends and family.
However, life is a series of adventures and we are on a new one. California has much to offer, and it will all turn out to be good.
(Mr. Boghani, who lived in Boston area for decades and served as a Charter Member of TiE-Boston for many years, now lives in Pasadena, Calif.)