I wanted to take a moment to say thank you, and also goodbye. I would like to say that it's not you, it's me, but let's be honest, a majority of this is you and the rest of it is me. But, as I say goodbye, I don't want to focus on just the negative. That isn't what I will be taking with me, so instead, let me tell you why I have so much to thank you for.
When I was 7 years old, you accepted me and my family. Coming from a small town in Ohio, I was immediately in awe of what you had to offer. At first, I was sad, because my friends and family in Ohio was all that I knew, and leaving them behind was hard, but necessary. But, you did not disappoint. You would introduce me to new friends, and new family, and to a definition of "weather" that did not include snow and I would love you for it.
I also feel like I need to thank you for sharing your vast beauty with me. I have been witness to what you have to offer from north, to south, to the east and to the west. I feel confident saying that anyone wanting to experience so much diversity in nature need only visit California for a month and drive. Just drive. From the national parks giving you stunning Redwoods and Sequoias, to the numerous beaches and mountains up and down the coast. Love the dry desert scene instead? California has that too. There is no lack of beauty, regardless of your tastes.
The same is true when it comes to the population as well. Of course, depending on where you live, your experience may differ, but having spent a majority of my time in Los Angeles, I can tell you that living there will introduce you to every walk of life. The world intersects in Los Angeles, there is no doubt. On any given day, in any given neighborhood, you will come across so many people in one day that you would not otherwise see anywhere else. In some cases, those folks will even become your friends and surrogate family.
I've had the pleasure of meeting so many people during my time in California, people that have come and gone and people that will be my friends for life. There were so many experiences with these people that could only happen here, in this golden state, and those memories will last a lifetime.
California, you helped make me the man I am today. Granted, there is quite a bit of myself that exists in spite of you. Luckily, I never became that stereotypical Angeleno, but there are numerous traits I have developed that take with me that will certainly make it obvious to others where I came from. The patience, frustration, and aggressiveness I've developed from just driving in this state will serve me well I'm sure.
But, the most important thing I can thank you for is my wife. Yes, there were many factors that took place before our meeting that lead us to that moment, but it happened here, in California, and I will forever thank you for that. Our first outing together was a concert at Staples Center, and our first official date was a memorable one. Started in Marina del Rey, and ended in Santa Monica, all because I was so nervous and excited that I forgot movie theaters change their schedules on Fridays. Still, like I said, it was memorable nonetheless. Thank you.
So, see California, this is bittersweet for me. I thank you for giving me so much, but it is time to say goodbye. You have become a place that can no longer foster my growth. We have reached the end of our road together, but even though my wife and I leave to start our new adventure in Tennessee, we both take our time here with us. She will be willing to share with anyone that asks the perils and pitfalls of living here, where I will be the counterweight and tell them of all things I mentioned above. I can only hope that everyone gets to experience your beauty and majesty at least once in their lifetime. I have been very fortunate and will never forget that.
Thank you, and goodbye.