Fast friends for a lifetime

I’ve never had so much fun in my life before I moved to Gilroy, seven years ago. I used to live in San Jose—where neighbors were cordial but where we all stayed to ourselves. On the weekends my husband and I either entertained close friends at our home or visited these same friends at their homes across town. My life revolved around my job and family life (all good things) without any interaction with my community. I often felt like City government and issues were miles away from me and that I was just an onlooker in my community.
While reading the news or emails about the goings-on in South County and visiting our good friends in Gilroy, I soon developed city-envy. There seemed to be so many fun things to do in the South County. Getting our chance at the end of 2009, my husband and I made our move to Gilroy and only wish we had done it sooner.
A whole new life opened up for me after moving here. Most people are so friendly and it is so easy to get connected here. We only lived here a short time before I got to know many of our neighbors, local officials and business owners on a first-name basis.
As a new resident and while I was in between jobs during the Great Recession, I made a pitch to this newspaper about writing about wine. Even though I had never done anything like this before; after a brief vetting and amazingly to me, I was given the opportunity to have my own wine column. Writing about our local wines opened the door to meeting all the wonderful winemakers and other people associated with the industry. Not long after, a book publisher (Arcadia Publishing) came across my column and asked me to write a historical photo book about our oldest wineries—giving me the chance to research the region’s history and get to know our city’s pioneers.
Living here, I’ve learned that volunteering and giving back is a way of life. It is a great honor to join in with the many others in our community who give so generously of their time—whether at the Garlic Festival (a shift at the calamari booth is an unforgettable, gastronomic experience), or Rock the Mock event for high school kids, attending ribbon cuttings for new businesses or placing holiday wreaths at the tombstones of our U.S. veterans.
In Gilroy, I know our neighbors by name. We look out for each other and socialize together. We’re even on a weekly bocce ball league along with a 100 of our other neighbors. When I bump into people I know at the local grocery stores, we always joke that we have to plan at least two hours to do our shopping because we’re always stopping to chat.
All the open space and slower pace of life is calming to me. It’s easy to spot wild turkeys, deer and soaring hawks and on rare nights I’ll hear the hoots of an owl.
I love shopping at the Gilroy Outlet stores for the selection and sheer convenience. Often times, I can park right in front of the store I am visiting for a quick in-and-out purchase.
And when my husband and I go out to dinner or visit our wineries, we are warmly greeted by the owners who many times remember our names. Looking around I usually wave a hello at someone I know, also enjoying the food and wine.
My calendar has been crammed and double-booked with summer events including festivals, the wine and beer strolls and parades. Free music series abound at the Friday nights in downtown, at the wineries and the music-in-the-park series in my neighborhood.
If I seem smitten with Gilroy, I am. I am enjoying the fun and welcoming feeling of this city and its surrounding communities of Morgan Hill, San Martin and San Benito County and am here to stay.