Growing up in small-town New Hampshire, California seems to be this mystical, amazing place, where people are diverse and interesting and accepting. I recall reading a book of someone growing up in Berkeley and thinking “I need to live there.” I finally got to visit San Francisco in 2005 when a dear friend moved to the Bay area after college. My best friend and I went and visited him for a week and we got a whirlwind tour of what Northern California has to offer (and that’s a lot!). I almost applied to grad school at UC Berkeley, but their deadline was early, their funding for MA programs nonexistent, and so in the end, I ended up living my California adventure in San Diego.
After a couple of years in San Diego, it was blatantly obvious that San Francisco and the Bay area were more suited to me — my politics, my love of city life and public transportation, my personality and attitude, my vegetarianism and sustainable eating practices. But I didn’t manage to visit again until the end of May/early June 2009, when I needed a quick and inexpensive vacation and was evaluating it as a potential place to move. It was my first solo adventure in the US, and I stayed in a hostel, wandered around, ate alone, and I loved it despite the dampness of spring. But did I want to move there? Not really. If I’m honest, I was tired of California (for good reason, I’d been fighting to survive for too long in its terrible economy).
Once my mind was made up to leave California, I wanted to visit again, cheaply, since it’s far more expensive flying across the country (and I hate, hate, hate cross-country flying, since I have ended up sleeping in the airport on several occasions). I got a $70 ticket for early December and off I went. When I got out of the BART station and was surrounded by the tall city buildings, I knew for sure: I love city life, it suits me, and I miss it greatly. San Francisco is a lovely city and someday it would be great to live there (with disposable income). My second visit in 2009 was even better, with sunshine and blue skies (though bone-chilling temperatures due to the dampness in the air), and my own improved familiarity with the neighborhoods and public transportation. I wandered and ate lots of delicious food (especially ice cream) and just appreciated the city’s character (so different from and similar to NYC at the same time). I may have never visited Los Angeles during my three years in southern California, but I visited San Francisco twice!
You can check out my photos here, but here you see some of my favorites.