We first met 5 years ago.
I was on a 2-week roadtrip up the west coast, reveling in my newfound freedom, eager to see and do as much as I could – simply because I could.
He greeted me upon arrival with warmth and a laidback-but-cool energy that just felt right.
We hit it off instantly, and I allowed myself to get swept away by his charm. Picnicking in the park on the sunniest of days, enjoying homemade cheese sandwiches with brown-bagged Napa wine, the sounds of acoustic guitar gently floating our way. Long, contented walks along the misty waterfront, followed by thrilling cable car rides up those famous steep hills.
I fell for him just as fast as I left him, abruptly closing the door on our glorious 3 days together as I ran towards potential new flames further upstream. Portland and Seattle were lovely indeed, but they couldn’t quite compare.
San Francisco was the one that got away.
At the time we met, I was one emotional breakdown short of a hot mess. I had no idea what I wanted or who I wanted to be, but I knew I wasn’t ready to commit: to a person, a place, an identity, a career path. I needed time to figure all these big Life Things out, unwilling to rush them and settle.
Much has happened since we met 5 years ago. I’ve quit 2 jobs, started 2 new jobs, founded a wedding photography business, moved twice, visited 12 new countries, and endured countless awful-to-mediocre dates – all while calling New York City home. It’s been 5 years of hard work, steady growth, and soul searching. I’m not the same person I was back then – I’m better. I’m AWESOME.
And I think I’m finally ready for him.
I’ve thought lots about San Francisco since our short-lived love affair. “Eventually I’m gonna end up in California” became my mantra whenever I fell into conversation with new acquaintances or lamented all the things I couldn’t stand about New York. But how could I be so sure of it, after spending just a few days there? What if I returned someday and didn’t feel that same spark?
With little warning last month, a fortuitous work trip turned “someday” into T-14 days. Suddenly I’d be confronting these supposed feelings head-on. Had I idealized this city, this state, beyond recognition?
Reunited, and it feels so good.
Now here I am, in San Francisco. I’ve just spent the past 4 days rekindling our romance, retracing the steps I took on my last visit and visiting familiar sites that once brought me great joy: the Bay Bridge, the Ferry Building, Crissy Field, the famous Painted Ladies (aka the Full House houses). Yes, these things still make my heart sing.
I’ve carefully crafted my days here so that I’m doing all the things I’d be doing if I actually lived in San Francisco (i.e. not the cheesy touristy stuff, and not the post-work networking events). Epic late-afternoon bike rides after work, across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito and back. Reading and picnicking outdoors both in parks and on the waterfront. Sampling ALL THE COFFEE I can manage without making my head spin. Going out for drinks with local San Franciscans, shooting the breeze about the tech world and favorite outdoor getaways. Exploring new neighborhoods, imagining what it’d be like to live in one of those Edwardian homes and be a regular at a nearby cafe.
And I was happy – really, genuinely happy. Like the way New York made me feel in the early years.
But this love is different. San Francisco and I are a much better match. Above all, I just want to live in a city I love, with easy access to gorgeous natural scenery and outdoor adventure opportunities.
Yes, it’s clear —
I need to live in San Francisco.
When? Not soon enough. I’m not in a rush, but if the opportunity arose in the near future, I’m pretty sure I’d hop right on it.
Stay tuned, fellow frolickers!