I moved to San Francisco in early August. I drove in from the south, watching the temperature hover at a steady 112 degrees. Suddenly, I rounded a corner and saw a line of thick, white cloud pressing down on the land in front of me. The temperature plummeted to 59, and I drove in, literally blind to what was in front of me.
There were cracks in my foundation, and I was doing my very best to ignore them. I left Houston and didn’t think twice as I careened toward San Francisco. The longer I’ve lived here, the more I’ve heard similar stories from other people; San Francisco is the kind of place where you don’t really move with care and deliberation. It’s a place to run to, a place where the misfits have rewritten the rules. It’s a bit like Neverland, accepting lost boys and girls who swear they’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up… not me! And it slows time in the strangest way. The seasons and the years bleed together, until suddenly you realize that it’s been nine years.
Nine beautiful years. Nine years of pinching yourself every day, remembering that you have the awesome honor of living here. Nine years of being chilled through to your bones. Nine years of feeling like every day has magic and possibility. Nine years of ignoring how damn difficult every transaction is: getting to work, standing in line to buy groceries, finding parking at 9pm, getting the bulk pack of toilet paper from the store to your house. Nine years of falling in love with a place every single day.
It all feels like a blink. And yet, when I do the accounting, I see how I grew up, grew up, grew up… me. In that first year, my foundation shattered. I broke my own heart and someone else’s, and took a wrecking ball to a dream I’d nurtured since childhood. I changed every single thing that could change. It took years two and three to reassemble myself. I started this blog. I found other people, online and in real life, who were reflections of myself, who made me feel less weird and alone. I met the Horse Whisperer, and — in years three and four — learned what the word “partner” means. In year five, I found a career that I love and discovered that the things I thought were weaknesses were actually my strengths. Somewhere around year seven, I became a San Franciscan – someone who knows this town like the back of my hand, who can pinpoint exactly which person on the bus is going to make a scene, who can tell you exactly where to get this or that item. And I thought to myself, “This is my place. This is where I’ll grow old. I’m one of the ones who will stay.”
And yet, quietly, somewhere around the eight year mark, I looked around and thought, “I could be ready for the next thing.” It felt like an insidious joke, that first whispered thought. I vehemently denied it, refusing to give it any room to grow. But a few weeks later, there it was again: “I could be ready for the next thing.” And it grew and grew, Jack’s beanstalk tempting me to leave Neverland. I just couldn’t figure out where it was going. “I could be ready,” I kept thinking, but there were other factors. I work in a relatively narrow field, and the Horse Whisperer’s industry is extremely limited. He’d made it clear, in our first month of dating, that there was only one job for which he’d be willing to leave the Bay Area.
Which was why I knew where the beanstalk went the moment that they called.
And so, we are leaving San Francisco. In a few months, we’ll say goodbye to this incredible place that formed us, both as individuals and as a couple. We’ll pack up our house and our hearts, because loving San Francisco doesn’t mean leaving your heart here. We’ll drive south, and we’ll plant new roots in San Diego. And we’ll look back forever, pinching ourselves that we had the amazing privilege of living in San Francisco for nine glorious years.