I’ll always love going back home to Orange County, CA for a visit with family and friends.

The smell of the sea and the cool breeze blowing through my hair as we arrived was a refreshing reminder of why I love my old home so much.

As the sun set on the Southern California coast line, the sky burst into color. Pink, orange and purple painted the sky and kissed the clouds as we drove down Hwy 1 (PCH) after taking the long way home.

I’ve always loved the ocean. I’ve spent many summers swimming in the sea, body surfing in the waves and collecting shells, sand crabs and the occasional “marble”. After drying off I would always have a collection of salt in my eye brows and plenty of sand left in my hair.

Being back also reminded me of why I left. I have changed since leaving and I honestly believe it was for the better.

As hard as it was to leave my home of 28 years, I have grown and finally feel like I can make a difference in my life. While living in CA, yes the weather was nice (kind of… we lived inland so it was hot…A LOT) and it was nice being close to family and close to one of our favorite places (DISNEYLAND), but with the rise of living costs and the lack of work on my part I always felt like a failure. I never felt successful as an artist/ freelancer.

Every month was a penny pinching situation. We couldn’t get out of debt or really TRY to. We couldn’t afford a home in any areas we wanted or in areas we felt safe. And trying to get my daughter into an early educational program was out of our reach due to the fact that we made JUST too much to have it be free, but not enough to pay for it. I felt like a failure as a parent. I did everything I could to teach her from home to help her get that “head start” that every child apparently needs now a days… because why not make life harder on young parents (yes, I am technically a millennial, but I’m an older millennial, born 1990). I know plenty of you complain that millennial are lazy… but in reality, we are go-getters who have had to create a new path to find our success. We are unorthodox and don’t follow the rules that worked for our parents because in today’s economy, it has set us all up to fail or to be stuck for a very long, long time, which is not fair to our generation in any way. No path was placed before us to follow that gave us our parents same benefits… that’s long gone. We have had to create a new path and plan in order to make living on this world worth it.

I believed that I was being forced almost to leave CA. Nothing was working out the way it should, and we were suffering.

So we left.

And I will never look back, because life is so much sweeter now.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I can make it.

I love Austin, TX so much. And I will (probably) never move back to California unless I feel like it WANTS us back…

AKA… More MONEY… because in order to live in CA, you have to be beyond “successful”… you basically have to be a prodigy and be making nearly four times what the rest of America is making.

And that’s just sad.

So I’ll just sit here and enjoy the Texas air, and the bright green of the trees. It’s so beautiful here… and I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling in CA… Come to Austin. It’s been the best choice I’ve made in four years.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of art related talk there. I just got back from that trip and all these emotions and realizations overwhelmed me. Haha.

Until next time!

Stay Creative!

Alexa Terry Hanson

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