Lisa, California GirlAt what point does a New York gal living in NorCal get to officially become a California girl? I’ve been living in this beautiful corner of the world for 12 years come this summer. And I still pinch myself that I get to live here.

Years ago, in 2010, when Sean and I were living in the Hudson River Valley of NY and I lost my beloved mother, he asked me what I needed. I told him a cup of tea. He said, “No, what do you need?” with wide sweeping arm movements. I reflected and answered, “A change.”

At the time, I really wanted to move to Europe. But it was too big to wrap my head around through all that grief. So instead, we booked a trip to France. A week of bike riding in Provence, and a week of renting an apartment in Paris. It was sublime and exactly what I needed. During that trip, Sean confided in me that he wanted to apply for a specialty residency in veterinary internal medicine after being a general practitioner for over a decade. But it would mean selling our home, leaving our friends and family in New York, and that we wouldn’t be moving to Europe. He worried that perhaps it was selfish since I was looking for a change and he would be the one pursuing this dream.

Lisa and SeanThe more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. I loved the idea of a change, and this would provide a built in one. Although I am a planner extraordinaire, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to handle the logistics of a global move after the 16 months that my mom had dealt with pancreatic cancer and being in such deep heartbroken grief over her passing. So we pursued his residency with gusto, going around the country so that he could interview at different veterinary teaching hospitals, and I could visit the areas to determine if I would be happy living there for three years. Just like a human medicine matching program, we ranked the selections and waited. On match day in February 2012, we were thrilled that he matched with his number one choice, UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital. I rejoiced because from the minute I saw this area of the world, it reminded me of Tuscany and Provence. While it may not exactly be Europe, it is a very special area that has become home. And I get to live only hours away from my dad, who is in SoCal, instead of across the country from him.

So, I’m claiming the title of California girl. Because there is no statute of limitations of how long you need to live in a place that you love to embrace being an official part of it.