Linda and I are celebrating our 20th Anniversary and 15th year on the Central Coast. It is high time to do another installment of Beauty and the Beast (BatB): The Linda and Patrick Story. On the main blog there is a list of chapters if you need to get up to date.
I don't remember when it was Linda and I decided we needed to live on the Central Coast of California (affectionately known as SLO, San Luis Obispo County), but it was early in our relationship. As most things it was probably a process and not one conversation or event. Suffice it to say we longed to live in SLO!
If you've never been to there you probably have no idea why we wanted to move here or why Oprah calls it the happiest place on earth. The biggest thing that hit me, when I came to SLO as a kid, was how truly blue the sky is. I didn't know that growing up in LA where everything is brown. Add to that the extremely pleasant climate and small population...what's not to love? The issue? No jobs.
Linda's parents owned a townhouse in SLO. As newly weds it was a boon to be able to go to that place for little getaways and we did; about 3-4 times a year the first few years of marriage. Every single time I'd look at the Telegraph-Tribune newspaper for jobs (this was pre-Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder). Every single time there would be nothing.
Frustrated we started thinking about alternatives. As much as I love our hometown and growing up there I was done with being hot, temperature-wise, that is. So we started looking at Orange County and even northern San Diego County. But SLO was calling and neither of those areas were. I went to interview after interview for jobs and nothing ever panned out. I think I did that for 2-3 years.
Then on one trip I remember a job posting in the newspaper (the Trib). I couldn't believe it, a company on the Central Coast was looking for a Systems Analyst, which I was at the time. Not only that, but it was for the exact software I had been working on for the last 2-3 years! This was around September of 2007, and I immediately mailed (envelope, resume paper, stamp, postal workers) my resume to the company.
I didn't hear back from them for months! In the meantime, because the software I was working on was popular I would get unsolicited phone calls from headhunters. It was getting annoying to be honest. So when the company, Ziatech, finally called me back in March of 1998 (Did I tell you that things are slow in SLO?) I thought it was one of those annoying unsolicited calls.
Ron: Yes hi my name is Ron and I'm calling from Ziatech
Me: Oh yeah, I'm not really interested in consulting or paying a firm to find me a consulting gig
Ron: Good, I'm from Ziatech you sent us your resume
Me: What? Who is this? What company are you from? (Trying desperately to figure out if I had sent a resume to a consulting firm for some reason)
Ron: This is Ron...from Ziatech (long pause for dramatic effect) In San Luis Obispo.
Me: SAN LUIS OBISPO!?!?! (I remember the amazement on Linda's face, me trying not to drop the phone, I think there was fist pumping involved!) What can I do for you Ron?
Ron: (trying not to laugh) well I'd like to interview you for the Systems Analyst position
The rest to be honest was a blur. We had a quick phone interview, Linda and I went up to SLO at Ziatech's expense for the face to face interviews, the offer came and we negotiated and it was done. We were moving to SLO! After years of desiring it, God fulfilled the longing in a matter of weeks. We were moved and I started working for Ziatech May 4, 1998.
Some tidbits from that blur between the call in March to starting the job May 4, 1998.
My in-laws put their house up for sale in La Canada and started looking for homes in SLO...based on the interview. They are hilarious, and it is such a blessing to have them close (tell you how close soon).
We had to sell our house in La Crescenta.
As many things with me, this was a fiasco/learning experience. We gave the news to our friends right away and one of them was interested in buying the house. He was single at the time, but making great money and needed the write-off. We agreed on a price right away so that was great. I forget the details, but he questioned something about the transaction, and I got all crazy on him. It almost broke the deal...Linda had to talk me off that ledge, and we continued the sale thank God!
We had to figure out housing in SLO.
Do we rent? Do we buy? If we buy, do we do a 2 bedroom townhome or go with the longer term more "expensive" 3 bedroom home? So many questions and did I say we interviewed and moved in the span of about 2 months? We decided to buy and waffled for a while on looking for a 2 or 3 bedroom home.
Then we found it. It was just a concrete slab when we drove by it on our housing trip (again on Ziatech's dime), but I knew this was our house, even though it was $100k more than the house we had just sold to our friend. What's more. it was 8 houses away from the home Linda's parents found on a separate trip! They were the last two homes in Phase II of that tract and Phase III wasn't coming for 3-6 months later. As it was, the home we were looking at/eventually bought, was going to take another month. But could we/should we buy it or go for the 2 bedroom that was only $30k more than the townhouse we had just sold?
Linda: I really want that house, but we can't afford it, so we should buy the townhouse.
Me: I think we should buy the house.
Linda: (Secretly and cutely wanting the house) No we should buy the townhouse.
Me: But you want the house.
Linda: I know.
Me: So we should buy it.
Linda: You want the house?
Linda: I love that house...
We did this a few times. It's just our way. Then I put the numbers together on a spreadsheet and showed how we could afford the home. We put the offer in, and it still stands, to this day, as one of the best decisions we have ever made. That year, the median home price in California skyrocketed! We could not afford our home today.
The house is perfect. Great size for our family. Proximity to Linda's parents and my work. We love this house and still live in/own it to this day. Unless God has other plans, we don't plan on moving.
And that's what this segment of these blogs is all about right? God's plan. After 20 years with my wonderful bride and 15 years living in a dream location I think I'm just starting to give in to God's plan. I look back on those days of early marriage and wonder what I was thinking? We literally bought our house in La Crescenta, and seemingly the next day, I started looking for jobs that would move us to Orange County or San Diego! I was so antsy back then...must have been very unsettling for my baby girl.
Linda asked me at lunch today what I wanted to do for the next 20 years. I said something flippant like be the best boyfriend she could ever have. Which is true, but later I was thinking I just want to follow God's plan for us...whatever it is. That's very Centralizing...
That completes Part IX of BatB. At this rate I'll see you at anniversary 25!