The Gold Rush of ‘15
The mirage of the Golden State has hypnotized minds, like the siren song of Ulysses, since the 1800s. The gold rush was the first big draw, later, related business opportunities; then a respite for Okies from the depression; after that, a destination for the beats and hippies. More recently, the glitter is tied to potential bonanzas of the start-up culture.
I saw a glimpse of the magic in the summer of ’67, but moved east to live a staid life and raise a family in a neighborhood with great schools. For forty-five years I reaped the benefits of the Yankee culture of hard work and perseverance, but the shimmering memory never left me.
Once my life in Boston had run its course, the kids grown and me on my own again, I took a chance and sold my possessions on Craig’s list, pursuing a California dream of starting a new life in the charmed glow of San Francisco. Within months, a company pursued me with a flashy promise of a bag of gold in exchange for my years of experience. For weeks I interviewed and was told: the contract is just around the corner. But blinded by the promise of riches, like those prospectors of old who dredged the streams feverishly for a nugget, I jumped the gun and declared victory over the expensive, desirable Bay Area. I bought that four-hundred-dollar jacket I had my eye on in a window, for my final interview, and succumbed to the perfume counter for a quarter ounce of Chanel №5, to suit my new booming economy. Little did I know I had been courted by one of those start-ups that didn’t have half the resources they claimed, and who wanted me to work for free to help them achieve their vision. I had been hoodwinked by the very siren song I had been bewitched by.
In shame, I returned the jacket, but the perfume seal was broken, reminding me of my foolishness each time I open the medicine cabinet. Falling back on my heritage, I turned to Yankee work ethics, and with lowered expectations (moving three times, and constant hustling) finally made a foothold in west coast Mecca. Some say if you reach for the moon and miss, you will at least land among the stars. I grabbed for that golden ring and missed, but still am enjoying the carousal ride under blue skies, away from Boston blizzards. Like the prospectors who only panned a couple of ounces, then opened up a haberdashery, I am settling for life among other hopefuls, who never give up on making a better, more exciting life. It has become a habit now, to throw caution to the wind and dive headlong into the giant waves of the unknown, with my surfboard of wisdom from past experience as my guide.