Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 22 - Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.

Well, the question assumes I have regrets and that assumption would be correct. Some of my regrets are know the sort of regret where you say to yourself, "Oh, darn, I wish I hadn't done or said that!" and then just let it go.

Other regrets are big. I don't have many of those, but I have one that stands out heads above all else.

After seriously considering and almost relocating to Florida, we moved from California to Arkansas at the end of the Bush-41 recession (I swear, I think the Bushes have a recession gene!). We'd visited here about half a dozen times to visit family, loved the landscape and housing was cheap. Tom opened his business here and I started work, first at Planned Parenthood then at the local university. We both did really well in our chosen careers, but, as much as we tried, socially we have never really fit in. Our lives don't revolve around a church, we don't hunt or fish and we are very liberal Democrats. We love live theater, fine dining and entertaining friends and family...but not here.

In California, we had season tickets to a local outdoor community theater whose productions were more professional than anything I've ever seen here at Robinson Center or the Rep (both in Little Rock), with the exception of the Broadway show, Stomp. That's one performance in almost 20 years. For several years we had season tickets to the Orpheum Theater in Memphis for Broadway quality productions, but the downturn in the economy required that we relinquish our tickets for the time being.

We used to enjoy an array of independently owned restaurants of every ethnicity. We knew the chefs and servers by name and they knew us and what we liked. Here fine dining is limited to two or three places in Little Rock, but none here in our town, which is overrun with fast food, buffets and chain restaurants with more to come. Oh, how I miss Henry's (continental cuisine), C'est La Vie (cheese and fruit tray with a fresh baguette or the roast duck), Anita's (all things authentic Mexican), Vinny's Cafe Prego (all things Italian - his Mama taught him to cook), That Pizza Place (the best pizza I've ever eaten in the most fun atmosphere), Chin's Szechwan (obviously Chinese, fresh, made to order) and I could go on and on.

Going out to dinner with friends only served to highlight our differences. We were used to a leisurely, prolonged dining experience. We are never, ever in a hurry and love to just sit, talk and laugh before, between and during courses. Everyone else wants service and food NOW, wouldn't be offended if all courses (appetizers, entree and dessert) were served over-lapping each other and can't wait to get the check and leave. And they want separate checks! I had never ever asked for or asked if I wanted a separate check before moving here.

But, it's not just theater, dining or entertaining. There is just so much more to do in California and Florida and the population and environment is so much more diverse. No one is considered an outsider because, for the most part, everyone is from somewhere else. I miss hearing different languages and dialects spoken by people of many different nationalities in grocery stores, restaurants, events or by my neighbors. I miss huge festivals and fairs that occupy acres or many city blocks, take hours to browse through and feature real artisan vendors and other master crafters. I miss a politically progressive environment that considers access for walkers, runners and bicyclists paramount when designing roadways and intersections. I miss the beach, the ocean, the smell of salt water, sunshine, palm trees, tanned skin, FRESH seafood, avocado or orange or lemon or lime or grapefruit trees, healthy outdoor lifestyle, warm winter temperatures.

I guess I'm simply bored out of my skull. Moving here was absolutely the one big thing I wish I hadn't done. We are now working to rectify our mistake.

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