July 23, 2013 — Way back in 2003 I was living and working in Fresno, Calif. It was my first time living in a bigger city, and I was thoroughly enjoying the nightlife and the freedom of young adulthood. Three years into our fast-paced, city living, my husband accepted a job in some far away little town called Susanville. I had never heard of this obscure place except that my stepmother had lived in Westwood in the 1970s and attended Lassen Community College for a bit.
Friends and family were skeptical of our move here. It was too far away and too small a town. I tried to field questions I didn’t really know the answers to yet: What’s the weather like? How do you get there? Where exactly is Susanville? Why? Why? Why?
Coincidentally a work acquaintance was born and raised in Susanville, and when I told her I was moving here, she sarcastically said, “Good luck!” Another day, I overheard someone at a table next to me in a restaurant say something about Susanville. I asked them if they had been there and a 20-something young man replied he was from Susanville and couldn’t be happier to have moved away.
Hmmmm. I wondered and worried about the negative reactions I was getting from people who had actually lived here. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all. But, I knew I could always leave Susanville if it was as awful as it was being made out to be, so we forged ahead.
After a really long drive with two cats and a broke down U-Haul, we made it to our new home. Fast forward two children, five cats, two dogs, four cars and two houses later, and we are still mostly happy living in good old Susanville.
All those naysayers neglected to mention the best parts of living in this small town — the cool river with numerous swimming holes, the beautiful towering evergreens, the abundant and varied wildlife and foliage, the vibrant and caring community, the amazing summers, the wondrous winters … I could go on and on.
Some find living in a small town unnerving because of the lack of anonymity, but I’m used to it. I grew up in a town with a population of about 4,000 and everyone knew everyone. I’m used to others knowing my business — both good and bad. It was always nice to have someone you know stop to give you a ride before the bus came along. I liked knowing all the storeowners and policemen in my hometown.
And, while Susanville is very similar to the town I grew up in, it’s not all peaches and cream around here. There’s corruption, drama, gossip and a serious lack of shopping opportunities and dining choices. But, we have to take the bad with the good and make the best of what we’ve got.
So, here we are. Who knows how long we will live here — maybe well into old age, maybe not. In the mean time, we are happy to be a part of this amazing community with so much to offer if you are willing to look a little closer and engage.
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