I've been thinking about this for a very long time, and I've come to the conclusion that we should go our separate ways. I thought I loved you and it would last forever, but I was so very wrong.
I know that our relationship has lasted 50 years and that we should fight to stay together, but you've changed so much that, frankly, I don't know who you are anymore! When we first met, I was young and rather naive, and I loved you unconditionally. I spent years running with abandon across your sandy beaches in the bright sunshine, playing in your beautiful parks and attending your top-rated schools, which were a national model for the other states. For 18 years or so, I can honestly say that I was truly in love with you, but then came your first major transgression: Proposition 13.
Oh, sure, you tried to tell me that property taxes were bad for our relationship, but I knew you were lying. Low taxes, you said, would bring us closer together. You wanted to have your cake and eat it too. You said we could build schools and roads and parks without that tax money, but even back then I knew you were in denial.
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I didn't leave because I thought you'd get over it and we'd still have a future. But, to be totally honest, I stayed with you mostly for your weather. No other state has your perfect little sunsets (don't get me started on that sexy Pacific Ocean), your 364.5 days of sunshine each year and your mild climate even in winter.
I know you occasionally turned on me with your random earthquake tantrums, and you tried to chase me away with flames more than a few times, but I forgave you. I always forgave you, which I suppose says something about me. I was weak when it came to you, California. But now you're hurting everyone we know and I can't stand by and watch.
You've totally lost perspective, and I'm sinking into depression! We can't pay our bills, and the phone is ringing off the hook with creditors calling from all over the world. Children across the state are losing health care, more than 766,300 Californians lost their jobs in the last year, and we're at the top of the foreclosure charts. You need to change and you refuse to admit it. For the first time in our relationship, I'm embarrassed to say that we are together.
There's no doubt that I still have feelings for you, but since I lost my job in the newspaper industry and my house is being sold under duress, I want out. I'm leaving you, California, and you might as well know the truth; there's another state and I'm falling for it hard.
Never mind where it is, let's just say that it's above you and leave it at that. What I will tell you is that I can afford to live there without stressing every day that my expensive electricity will be shut off, or that my water, which I can use only sparingly, will dry up.
Oh, and my new state still has jobs in the newspaper business, which I will admit makes my heart go pitter-pat, and I find myself daydreaming about health-care benefits again. I know my new state isn't perfect. Oh, sure, the weather isn't as nice as yours, and it's got its own budget shortfall, but it's coping, and I can dress in layers.
Nothing is perfect.
So that's it, California, it's over. You've cost me too much.
I'm starting over, but I can see happy times ahead. Like we once had.
Please don't call my mother to try and find out where I live.
You could be a great state again, but I can't wait for you to turn it all around. Good luck! Hasta la vista.
Reed starts her new job in Chelan, Wash., in September. She is the co-author of "Thank You for Firing Me! How to Ride the Wave of Success After You Lose Your Job," to be published in February.
LOS ANGELES TIMES