January 16th marked 2 years of living in California. For me and Garrett anyway, Paul was ahead of us by about 2 weeks, and Addie doesn't get an anniversary because she was locally grown.
I remember a year ago thinking, "Wow, we've been here a year. I should blog about that." I never did, and now it's been 2 years. The first year I felt like time went so slow, and to be honest I was unhappy for most of it. The second year has had its ups and downs, but overall has been better and has gone by so much faster.
Here's what's been going on as far as California/family business life goes:
After being here for a year, Paul decided the family business life wasn't for him. Things weren't going like we'd thought or hoped they would and he was ready to move on, and move back to Utah. (Surprisingly) I wasn't as anxious about this new plan as he was. Leaving a family business is a big deal. Especially when it's the oldest business in the city, Paul is the oldest child and only male child in the family, and the White's are so well-known in the community. When we were secretly looking for jobs in Utah and I'd go to a Lion's event or a Chamber of Commerce event or something with Paul, I would feel that even more. Everyone just expects this is our lifelong plan, and I quickly realized leaving would be a much bigger deal than I'd thought, for so many reasons. I was at a business expo with Paul last year, and I was talking to the Mayor of Whittier. She said to me, "So how does your family feel about knowing that you've made the big move and you'll never live close to them again?" I was so caught off guard because at that time we were actively seeking employment outside of California and even had a timeline for when we wanted to be done here. I also got really sick of (and still don't like) people meeting our kids and referring to Garrett as 'The 7th Generation Funeral Director'. He's 2! And no matter how things go, Garrett will never be made to feel guilty or pressured to take over or even work for this business.
Paul took 3 or 4 trips to Utah, some alone, some he fit appointments in when we were going there anyway. He interviewed with 3 different funeral homes. The process was going very slowly, but we felt hopeful. We finally told his parents about our plan and things got even more awkward than they already were. It's always been a little awkward with Paul's family when it comes to the business because they've never expected us to stay so it's just been uneasy. Like, they haven't fully embraced us being here because they're preparing for us to walk away. I won't go into all of that part, because there's a lot of personal stuff, and you'd probably get bored anyway, (more bored than you already are). Paul and I talked to our counselor about this a bit. And actually, we'd referred Paul's parents to our counselor just for their own stuff. So I'd find myself thinking it was funny that Randy was meeting with them and us, kind of about the same issues, but protecting each of our privacy, etc. There was one day where the folks went to him in the morning and we went to him that evening. He was on White overload that day! We finally decided it may be beneficial if the four of us went together. We did, and it was awkward/hard/helpful/informative.
Anyway, nothing in Utah was progressing. I was feeling strangely settled in California and wondered if we were running away/not thinking it through enough/may have regrets... Paul and I spent a lot of time talking about our future, our family, our finances, plans, hopes, etc. A LOT of time. We met with his parents about our plans, became more specific about things we needed to see change if we did decide to give the business more time. Also awkward and challenging to communicate clearly, but we finally came to some resolution. We've all learned a lot about each other, discussed miscommunications and expectations, and relationships have improved a lot. Right after we decided these things and recommitted to California, Paul was offered a job in Utah. It's a great company, and he didn't close the door on them, but what they were offering isn't what we are looking for for our family right now.
So that's it. We're in California for now. Things aren't perfect. We still have frustrations. And ultimately, at this time, I don't see Paul ever taking the business over...but you never know.
And the non-business goods and bads about California:
-We've never found a church and have become lazy about it.
-The Mormon church found us (they're good at that) and we have some really good Mormon friends. I've been impressed with them. Complete strangers brought meals in after I had Addie. Several brought gifts to her after she was born. We've been invited to a lot of fun things. The kids and I did a mom and me summer group with several of them. We have some right up the street who's kids love my kids. Paul goes disc golfing with the husband and I'm good friends with the wife. She checks in on me often and is super helpful. She did Addie's newborn pictures for free, right during her busy time, and the day she did the pictures was the first time I'd ever met her. Really good people. While I don't agree with some of the doctrine, they do a lot of things right, and I miss the community part of the religion.
-The weather is awesome here. We survived our 'Cold Snap' of 2013 where we had to suffer through a week of freezing temperatures in the mid-50's, and now we're back to the high-70's. It was fun seeing Garrett play in the snow when we went to Utah after Christmas, but other than the beautiful fall colors in the Utah mountains, I haven't missed Utah weather.
-It's expensive to live here. The thought of getting ahead and ever buying a house seems impossible right now.
-We really miss our family in Utah. I've said to Paul that I'm going to make our kids only date people who's parents live within a half hour of us. (ha...in a perfect world...) It's sad to think that it's very likely that no matter where we end up, my kids will always be far away from at least one set of grandparents.
-California is too busy. There's no such thing as traffic in Utah compared to here. And it happens at the craziest times and locations. The only thing predictable about California traffic is that if you drive, you'll be in it.
-I could go on about the state and it's financial situation compared to the rest of America but I don't let those things worry me too much right now.