This is a poster of Silicon Valley that was pervasive in the 80s and 90s, now a classic.
So many thoughts this morning. They seem related, so let’s see if I can express them that way.
A few days ago I spoke with a close friend here…someone I’ve known well a very long time. A beautiful, loving and down-to-earth woman.
My friend and her former husband achieved financial security in one of the first big IPOs in the Bay area. As such, their social circle became other couples similarly situated. At heart though, my friend is an Italian Catholic girl, raised without much means, has strong values about what’s important in life and is pretty well grounded. One of those truly good human beings. From the inside out.
Now, she is in her late 60s, single, and dating. Doesn’t look it, doesn’t act it, but is nearing 70. When I met her, she was in her 40s. We talk often about being unmarried at this stage of life, and what accommodations we might or might not be willing to make in relationship.
She’s been dating a widower she likes very much. But she’s not introduced him to her circle of well-off friends. Part of her consideration is that the last time she introduced a man, one of her female friends was critical of the guy’s sweater. “Did he have to wear that sweater? It’s winter, and that was a summer sweater.”
Yeah, I know. It’s kind of funny. Imagine saying something like that.
But really, it isn’t funny. I’m sure you can find these kind of people anywhere, but they proliferate in places of great wealth, like Silicon Valley.
And while my friend is grounded in exactly the right ways, this kind of superficiality is so pervasive in some segments of society here that it’s cast a significant shadow on this new relationship.
I contrast that with the loving, accepting and open-hearted community in the Bay area that has surrounded my young friends as they went through the death of their baby daughter. It’s the kind of non-judgmental community that I have only connected with tangentially out here, because when you live and work in Silicon Valley, and have no kids, you tend to meet only hard-driving career people whose goal is wealth. Where love and acceptance are not really all that necessary.
The Valley’s a bit of a one-trick pony. It’s about achieving wealth and little more. Yes, it can be somewhat of a cultural wasteland down here, an hour south of The City, California’s cultural mecca.
Yesterday, Riley & I drove up to San Jose –Silicon Valley–to have dinner with The Beau and my friend Rosanne, a former high-tech colleague and friend of 20 years standing.
Riley & I hung out at the big campus of the high tech company where The Beau works and waited for him to get done. It was a walk down memory lane. We met Rosanne and dined at an outdoor café in the heart of the high tech industrial world. Just a few blocks from where Rosanne and I worked for 12 years. Near where ex #3, the High Tech Executive, courted me. Where I walked at lunch time, drank my first lattes, ate frozen yogurt. I watched the first apartments there go up. I saw high tech companies come and go. Including my own.
As we ate, we watched a steady stream of young couples of Latino, Chinese, Korean, eastern Indian, Pakistani, Japanese descent wheel their babies out for a walk. We watched young teenage boys in little groups laugh and cut up. The diversity was remarkable and the contrast from the 1980s and 1990s was vivid.
The Beau says that he doesn’t see his future here. That the South Bay has changed, that new people have come in and are pushing the old out, and I see that’s true. We had our day here and now they have theirs. They’ll seek their fortunes, some of them will make it, others will still be trying 10 years from now.
I have been gone a long time—12 years—and in that time, I’ve lost my sense of belonging to this Valley. It has moved on, and so have I.
As I look around, by society’s measure I’ve been successful. And yet, my heart longs for something different. That longing is the motivating force behind Life 2.0.
As I fashion this new life, I am inspired by the people of Silicon Valley. The superficial and material culture here illustrates what I don’t want to be around — but the way they are going after their dreams inspires me to step out of my own comfort level. I may not share the same dreams, but I respect that many of them are forging new lives in a new country based on their own hopes and vision for the future. Their own definition of “a better life.”
I am greatly inspired by the short life of Baby Tikva, her amazing and loving parents and the warm, accepting community that enveloped them as they walked through this difficult time. This is the energy I want to surround me. I hope that it is possible to find it in a new community at this stage in life.
On the ride back down to the Monterey peninsula last night, The Beau and I had a really solid conversation about the challenges of living together in Life 2.0. There’s nothing that strikes terror in the hearts of most men than having a conversation about “the relationship”, but he picked up on what I started and succinctly and effectively expressed his view of our relationship dynamic and how it could best work in Life 2.0.
I woke in the night thinking about the baby. I ran my hands across The Beau’s big shoulders. I snuggled up against our little dog, who lay between us.
Life is short. Love is precious.
I am, as I’ve said, unhealthily binary in any relationship. Today I’m at the positive end of the continuum. The one where hopes and dreams reside.
We’re off to Big Sur in a while.