10 Things we Liked So Far and 10 Things we are Missing (California) after 10 Days in a New Place (Virginia)

After over 3,000 miles of road trip from the west coast to the east, it is time to evaluate what we have Learned, Loathe, Love here in Norfolk so far and so good.

Loathe about Norfolk

1.       Traffic – never in my entire Navy life I have to drive within traffic during rush hours since my yuppie days in Manila.
2.       Temptations – living near the city gives us access to many shops and other temptations.
3.       Temperature – not as cold as Chicago or Connecticut (where we lived in Gales Ferrry, CT for 3 years), we finally have to use our thick jackets now (again).
4.       Tree’s Dead Leaf – back to raking on falls.
5.       Tons of Navy & Military people –most likely we will bump to someone who is in the military at Chili’s or Lowe’s still asking for military discounts.
6.       Take Three – this is our third move as a couple and we hated every unpacking and possibly packing again in three years.
7.       Trapped – we live inside the NATO / Joint Forces / Staff Base where about almost Admiral’s headquarters sits and so security is very difficult to go inside the base.  No more Pizza delivery and if ever we invited a guest to our home, we will need their birth date and social security to get them a base pass.
8.       Tarnished – yes, being in a city have pros but being dirty is one of those cons.
9.       Total Chaos – well besides the traffic, we expect the roads and downtown to be full of unsightly population unlike those places we lived in Port Hueneme, Groton or Lemoore.
10.   Taped – there is at least 3 red tapes we encountered so far.  One is to get a visitor into our base housing – must have their birthday and social security (so much for hosting a party).  Another big example is the required age to use the Base gym basketball court.  Since Sam was not even 2, I have taken him to Port Hueneme, Groton and Lemoore base gym to play basketball and this biggest Navy base in the world with the biggest gym only allows 10 years or older and here our housing at Joint Forces must be 14 years old.  Sam suddenly wishes “I wish we’re back in California” just to use the gym for our usual bonding.

Time will tell - being here for only 2 weeks won’t really tell us if this is going to be our final place to live as Navy or Retiree.  The anxiety of not knowing where our future here makes us loathe it.  Norfolk is a diverse community but not as diverse in most towns in California which is predominantly Filipino and Mexicans but still balance with other cultures, not as balance here in Norfolk which is dominated by only few cultures. 

Love about Norfolk, Virginia

1.       Convenience – few miles to everywhere we need to go.
2.       City Life – finally get to live in the city again - being both of us growing up in Manila.
3.       Character – not a boring moment.  Most buildings are old but it has a true character.
4.       Cafes – plenty of places to eat, hangout and explore.
5.       Cheap Deals – all the shops you can think of including the best deals.
6.       Casual lifestyle – no one cares if what you would do or wear, being in a city.
7.       Children’s Education – we picked this place primarily for Sam’s future education if ever we decide to live off base and find my next civilian job here in Norfolk.  It’s consistently better in children’s public education compared to most states in the West Coast.
8.       Church –we’ve been to 2 churches (ICC and Upward) so far and we both liked it and almost like our old South Valley Church in Lemoore:  contemporary music, very progressive, diverse and cool people.
9.       Community –We feel some of the southern hospitality here in southern part of the East Coast compared to folks back in the Northeast to be slightly friendlier.
10.   College – easy access to pursue Myla’s and myself on college on an actual campus and who knows for Sam’s future education as well.

Learned from our Trip from California to Virginia

1.       To explore your options.
2.       Connect with other people even from those 3,000 miles away – you never know if you will connect with them somehow – again.
3.       Plan your trip but be open to changes.
4.       Listen to your friends’ advice but pray about it.
5.       No matter where you go, it is not the community that can affect you, it’s you who can affect the community and only you who can control this.