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There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

I had to memorize these  lines in order to walk into English class in 10th grade .  I can still recite them verbatim. It might have been the most important thing I learned in high school.  Shakespeare’s words made it very clear that opportunity doesn’t knock twice and you can expect a steep penalty if you ignore opportunity when it presents itself.   I took those lines to heart and listened to Brutus.

After a decade living in Georgia, I urged my husband to take a position with a young company in CA. When the offer came through,I instantly knew this was just the kind of opportunity Brutus had in mind.  It seemed like a now or never proposition, if we were ever to move away.


Friends in Georgia asked us how we could move to a place that had earthquakes. That was mild compared to what our friends in the NorthEast had to say before we moved to Georgia!  It turned out, to my horror, that Georgia was smack in the middle of Tornado Alley. After living through a devastating and terrifying tornado, I decided you’re at risk for one catastrophe or another just about anywhere.

We moved to the relatively young town of Thousand Oaks, CA. in 1981.

In the early 80’s it was the land of endless Farrah Fawcett haircuts and butt-hugging dolphin shorts, ticky tacky suburban housing developments, large shopping malls and mega churches.  It was a pretty, but sterile and politically conservative town. Businesses had names like You are Hair, and Thanks a Latté.

People liked to say it was a good place to raise children. I guess that was because it was pretty, sterile and politically conservative.   It seemed to epitomize every cliché I’d ever read about Southern CA.  Within a year, my pre-adolescent smart-ass kids  took to calling it Thousand Jokes, CA.  I never came up with anything better.


I reached my limit with this location during the first Gulf War. The knee jerk patriotism became intolerable.  Within hours of the initial US strikes on Iraq, our house was the only one in our neighborhood without a boisterous American flag.  My chest was one of the few not emblazoned with the stars and stripes. Time to move on.   The day we moved, I drove down the driveway of our Thousand Oaks home for the final time and felt nothing but relief.

patriotic sweatshirt

Our next stop was Santa Barbara, just up the California coast.  I’d been attracted to it for many years. It met all my criteria for an ideal place to live.


It has ocean, mountains, and a university.  It’s not too large, but is within driving distance of a large city. It’s got a strong sense of place and a strong sense of community. It hasn’t disappointed me. It can get insular and small townish, but the positives more than make up for the negatives.  Each time I return after being away, I’m happy to be home.

I’m quite sure that I won’t be initiating any more major moves.  I’ve lost the desire or energy to start over someplace new.

That said, without fail, visits to Japan renew a child-like state of wonder, discovery and delight in learning.  It’s been that way since my first visit in 1983. I delight in the warmth and kindness of the people, the celebration of the seasons, the scrupulous attention to detail and the intrigue of living in a place where there is much that remains mysterious.

Wandering the lanes, the gardens, the temples and the shops, the lyrics of Gypsy in My Soul, still ring true, particularly in the phrase, “my heart has wings.



Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • April Walstad says:

    That was fabulous. Thank you.! And well illustrated! How fortuitous that you took the Brutus verse to heart and still do. Cheers! April

  • nagifford says:

    Thank your for this wonderful post. It resonates for me also, my heart leading me to foreign shores and strange towns to always begin anew. You are not missed here, your spirit is everywhere, you are too big-hearted to contain. Love you and keep sharing your adventures with us.