There was a fullness of life I felt happening here one cold, wet, December trip several years ago. I was visiting Lauren, my muse and oldest best friend who moved to the city directly after finishing her undergrad at UVA. I was a wide-eyed girl from North Carolina on my first trip to California. A venture which marked my second time being west of the Mississippi River.
I made that trip to San Francisco to understand why (oh why!) my beloved best friend ditched our post-college plans of living together in New York City for this far out city by the bay. Before graduation, she called me in Raleigh, NC, asking and encouraging me to join her. "So what do you think about San Francisco?" Lauren finally says. My full and instant reply was, "I think it's in California."
The West Coast was a foreign concept to me. More than that, I had a mother recovering from a life-threatening disease and my only grandmother faced serious health issues as well. Lauren moved west without me, but with a promise that I would visit as soon as I could. A few months later she was settled into her dark and cozy Pacific Heights attic apartment, and I made good on my promise.
My 10-day stay spanned New Year's Eve, allowing Lauren and I to celebrate our 24th birthdays together and take advantage of some treasured time off from our newly acquired jobs. It rained every day of that trip. Getting around was messy and difficult. The four steep flights of stairs up to her apartment were a real kick in the ass at the end of our long cold days touring the city. I was uncomfortable and unsure of myself in this new place... feelings with which I was not familiar. The change was invigorating. I felt alive.
I went back to North Carolina. I took with me a larger view of my country and a knowledge that one day, I would live in San Francisco.
Three years later, my appetite was whet for change and challenge. The seed planted during that cold, wet, December visit, came to its fruition in the form of a west-bound cross country trip in the Spring of 2008. I had my dog, a great resume, and a friend with a futon in San Francisco.
Now I live here, San Francisco. I still feel uncomfortable and unsure of myself at times, as the city continues to stretch me and force me to grow. But I am living the dream of my imagined life. This life is full of challenging work, in a city ripe with possibilities, surrounded by an ever expanding band of friends and colleagues that challenge me to become my best self.