Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The streets of Bakersfield or how I became retired

If they offer full medical benefits at 55, take it. Not many companies these days do. Mine did but my so-carefully-planned-retirement had an honest to God Catch 22.

"Dear employees, we are closing this office get out or move to Bakersfield."

Well, maybe they were a bit more PC with the announcement but you get the drift. Since I was less than a year from retirement I felt it necessary to make the move. I wasn't happy with the idea of moving but decided to buy a house in Bakersfield to make the time there more comfortable than living in an apartment.

At that time, two years ago, Bakersfield was one the the last affordable places in California. We never thought to sell our house in Southern California because one, it was paid for and we couldn't afford to move back because the prices have gone through the roof. My husband, Dan decided to stay and I'd move. We also both agreed, because of current tax laws, I'd need to keep the house for two years. It was going to add at least eight months to my exile but what money I made on the house would fund our remodel.

Let me describe Bakersfield. Hot in the summer which lasts from end of May until end of October and colder than you think in the winter with fog thrown in. Town motto: it's two hours from anywhere. Well, my version of the town motto because it was two hours from anything I wanted.

They discovered oil there in the late 1800s and the town hasn't been the same since. Agriculture is also a big part of the valley and as of late, dairy cows. It has so many cows that cow-air-pollution is becoming quite a problem. That's the methane created by all the cow waste. I know milk needs to come from somewhere, I'm a great fan of the cow and all its by products but they'd better start creating ways to dispose of this stuff before the central valley sinks under the weight.

In all honesty the people are nice and while we were there the pace of life was a bit slower. I'm not actually looking for that so it had no allure to me. The city had all the problems of a growing California city. Crime was a consideration, I know schools were although we didn't have an children. Like most cities today, drug, gangs and traffic were the big news topics. Murder seemed to be more popular what with all the groves of trees and fields to hide the bodies. Which seemed like a horrible place because most Monday's newscasts started with "Last night Kern County Sheriff's were called to the scene of a headless torso found in Arvin ..." I often wondered if the Sheriff shouldn't just hang out in the fields.

I'm actually being way too critical, I had a lovely house in a great neighborhood and a great job. Made some great friends but I didn't like the weather and I hated being two hours from my family, friends and house that I'd lived in for thirty plus years so it didn't matter what Bakersfield was like, I wasn't happy. I am happy now. Someone pays me to stay home, do what I want and write a blog so time spent in Bakersfield was just penance for living in Southern California.

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