Exactly four years ago today, after a three-and-a-half-day cross-country drive, I arrived in San Francisco for good.
My dreams of moving here had grown more and more powerful since 2007, when I first managed to visit, but I’d actually had it in my head that I wanted to live here since at least 1993, when during Coast Guard boot camp I requested an initial duty station anywhere in the Bay Area. (I got New Bedford, Massachusetts instead, which I hear has come a long way since then. But I digress.) I left Florida two days after the string of disappointments that were Election Day 2014 in the Sunshine State and didn’t look back, driving for thirteen hours a day until I finally made it here.
One of the first things I did was spend nine dollars (!) on a pint of Guinness, in a bar where the bartender turned out to be from Bradenton, a nondescript city in Florida where I’d lived for several years once upon a time. What are the odds, right?
(Of course, the odds were better than you might expect because everyone in this city is from somewhere else, but I didn’t know that then.)
Before I got here, I had decided that I would give myself at least a year in San Francisco. That seemed like a reasonable period of time in which to find my space in the city, my tribe of people. Going back to Florida any sooner than that would be a failure.
The first six months or so were not easy. I had begun to think that maybe I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for here after all. Maybe my unhappiness in Florida hadn’t been as location-dependent as I had assumed. Maybe I wouldn’t ever find a place where I could be happy.
But all that changed, right around the eight-month mark. That’s when I stumbled into a great group of fun, supportive, accepting friends, almost completely by accident—and that changed everything. Since then I’ve done a decent job of expanding my friends circle. I’ve been lucky enough to start participating in the literary scene around town. I’ve landed a few really good jobs that—unlike what was widely available to me in Tampa Bay—actually do make full use of my skill sets and allow for professional growth (though in one of them, I worked for the second-worst boss I’ve ever had, and my list of former bosses dates all the way back to the Reagan years).
Now I am comfortable here. San Francisco is not just my home, but it’s the home I had been looking for all that time after all. I may not stay here forever, but I’m certainly in no hurry to leave.
So here’s to four more years. And then we’ll see about four more after that.