The first time I came to San Francisco was only the second time I’d even set foot in California. It was May of 2011 and I was there for a job interview. I’ve written extensively on the subject, you might have noticed.
Forget everything about it, that hindsight hellhole of a career opportunity– that day was beyond life-changing because it strongly planted an idea, a dream into my naïve brain. The second my appointment in that barbed-wire enclosed ranch ended, I left the dirt and dust of the hills and headed west.
I drove to one of my favorite places on Earth, the Marin Headlands overlooking the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. Later, I watched the sun set that spring evening from Ocean Beach near Golden Gate Park. On my way back to Oakland, I drove down a street I’m sure I’d seen in my dreams years before. Looking over at the lit peak of the Transamerica Pyramid from the Bay Bridge, I told myself never to forget what I saw and how I felt in that moment.
Because I ended up with that job in the end, I returned to California permanently four months later. As a result of my relatively remote location, my roots were growing in the Central Valley; San Francisco was lost in the pipes. As 2011 turned over into 2012, several former colleagues, also roughly my age, had moved to the city. We were barely acquaintances, yet I’d been unable to stop comparing myself to them, feeling myself failing for not having the capability to follow at the same time. I was stuck, and I’d be stuck for many more months to come.
As the middle of 2013 rolled through, another career opportunity had me longing for the city by the bay. Having an office within its bounds, I was prepared to drop everything in the East Bay and come over the minute they would have me. That notion was crushed shortly thereafter, along with, serendipitously in hindsight, the shackles that tied me to the east.
In November of that year, I inadvertently led myself a step closer to my goal after the first of several interviews that went exceedingly well. I was in month number four of unemployment and job-searching had become so rote and banal that I almost felt like I wasn’t even trying anymore. As it happened, I accidentally stumbled into my dream job.
But all wasn’t quite right, and it took another three months to get started down that career path. The delay was costly, deferring my dream once again for what might have been another long year. With only a month of work under my belt and almost no savings left to speak of, a cross-bay move was simply impossible.
One year later, somehow, it all fell into place. This past week I packed my stuff into a surprisingly few number of boxes, had it loaded onto a truck by punctual and efficient moves, and not an hour later watched it arrive on a sunny, quiet street on the western side of San Francisco.
It’s stupid how easily my surroundings put me into a better mood. The first time I came to my new residence, I drove down the hill heading toward the west, the Pacific Ocean shining as the winter sun set below.
The street I live on has an incredible view; all I need to do is look and I start smiling like an idiot. I’d dreamed of the city, of the ocean, chased the sunset for years. Now I get to see it every day.
I’m living the dream. It’s been a long road to this moment, but I persevered against what seemed like insurmountable odds. I never lost sight of the light at the end. Or maybe, the light was so captivating it wouldn’t let me look away.
Either way, you’ve finally got me, San Francisco. I’m ready for my real life to begin.