My wife and I, along with our two boys and two cats, moved to Oregon in early December. We’re from California. Even worse: Southern California. And worse yet, we’re from Orange County — the belly of the beast as far as many are concerned. There is no denying, after all, that The OC is the epicenter of the Real Housewives phenomenon, not to mention a bastion of both Botox and the beach city “bro,” among many other detestable things.


Many friends and family members, upon hearing our plan to head north, warned us that California transplants are a despised species in Oregon, something akin to English ivy and feral swine. Change your license plates immediately upon crossing the border, they advised.

Cursory online research on my part showed that, in fact, there was some credence to their concerns. Especially if you listen to what “Richard D” had to say some years ago on a Yahoo message board on the topic of migration from the south.

“Californians in general are shallow, materialistic airheads,” he seethed. “They care only about impressing others with the car they drive and the house in which they live. Instead of adapting to the calmer northwest way of life, they bring their frenetic lifestyle as they blast through stop signs while talking on the cell phone.”

Luckily, though, I haven’t run into Richard D — or anyone like him.

Well, there was that employee at the Sherwood smog check station. “So, you’re escaping,” he said, noticing my since-been-swapped California plates. He talked glowingly of Arizona (where he had traveled recently) while describing the entirety of the Golden State as a “pit.” I just grinned and nodded along. To each his own, eh? At least his beef seemed to be more with the state that I left, rather than me leaving it and moving to Oregon.

Generally, though, people have been kind and welcoming. And not one person has yet to confirm the fears of those people back in California who warned that my family and I would be treated as leprous interlopers seeping up from Hades and bent on despoiling your beautiful state.

Because — to reassure you — I want it to be my state, too. I am not a Californian in exile. I’m an aspiring Oregonian.

I have no interest in seeing a SoCal sprawl of little boxes all made out of ticky-tacky eat up your open space. I have no designs to turn any of your many rivers into concrete channels and then fill them with rusting shopping carts and discarded refrigerators. I respect your stop signs, Richard D, and cheerfully let orange-vested strangers pump my gas (despite the fact that I’ve pumped my own for some two decades with neither fuel spill nor explosion). And I’m doing my best to weed the “like’s” and the “sweet’s” from my speech — though, on this count, with little success.

I’m not ashamed of where I came from, but I’m sure happy I left.

You know why? Look out the window.

And, early in the New Year, my wife and I learned that we have a third boy on the way. This one will be a native Oregonian. It’s an idea that gives me great pleasure — at the same time I’ll likely envy him a bit for it.

So, thank you to all of the generous, gracious Oregonians I have met thus far. Remember, there’s no need to apologize for the weather upon hearing from where I hail. I like the rain. But, please, continue to tell me to enjoy the sun, when it shines. In California, by contrast, people advise you to hide indoors.


And to anyone in California who might come upon this column: Feel free to visit. Just don’t move here.

Luke Roney is editor of the West Linn Tidings and Wilsonville Spokesman.

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