|This photo was taken the night Jeremy asked me to marry him!|
Today was the 4th of July. It also happens to be exactly 1 week before we leave our home to take off on our year and a half long backpacking adventure. We had our friends over for a BBQ, which just reminded me yet again how lucky I am to have such a wonderful community of friends here. As we all sat around the table outside enjoying grilled pineapple and chicken wings together, nostalgia kicked in hard. I am leaving behind such a wonderful, amazing life that I am so lucky to have I have loved every minute of the 4 years I have lived in the Bay Area. Tonight, as I sit in bed alone, listening to fireworks crackle outside my window, decompressing from a day filled with packing up our nearly empty apartment and saying goodbye to my friends, I’m feeling a sense of mourning for this ending chapter of my life.
Bay Area Beginnings
I moved to the Bay Area almost exactly 4 years ago, on July 1st. I was a wide-eyed new college grad, only 22 years old, and freshly single. VERY freshly single – I moved together with my college boyfriend, who I’d actually been planning to marry. After graduating, we spent 2 weeks backpacking together through Europe, and then 2 weeks road tripping across the country. Somehow during that travel I realized that I didn’t want to get married at 22 years old. I had always heard that if you have any doubts about marrying someone, you shouldn’t do it (which, as a now-married person, I agree with!) So we broke up literally on the road to San Francisco (more accurately, I rather cruelly and selfishly broke his heart mid-trip… I still feel terrible about it) and I moved to the Bay Area single. That was the first major travelling I’d ever done. I planned everything, I booked everything, and it changed something for me. I came back different, with a different perspective on life. I came back with a passion for new things and new challenges, with less fear of taking risks. My first big risk was breaking up with someone who I got along with well, who treated me wonderfully, who was funny and smart and ambitious, just because it didn’t “feel” right. And I’ve been thanking myself for taking that risk ever since. (He’s also married now, so hopefully he is thankful too!)
|Ah, 22 year old me. When everything was sparkles and rainbows and pink onesies were a viable outfit to wear out somewhere and I could stay awake past 10pm, I was so young and naive then.|
That trip set the pace for my life in the Bay Area. I jumped right in with no hesitation. I found a meetup group online filled with young people who wanted to go out and do exciting, fun things every single day! I threw myself into my newfound social scene and partied harder than I ever had in college, when I had to worry about grades and tests and homework after the school day was over. I had some money, I had a stable job, I had a place to live, and now I had a huge amount of new friends, too.
After a year or two of nonstop socializing, the huge group of new friends lost its appeal. I fell out of the group, saying goodbye to my daily rotation of social obligations and instead choosing carefully who I wanted to continue to spend time with and foster meaningful friendships. It was around this time that I met Jeremy. It was also around this time that I decided that my job was actually making me miserable. I got a new job. It was at a company that I liked much more than my first job, but my role wasn’t really engaging me. Meanwhile, Jeremy was working at a coffee shop, having recently graduated from art school (yes, he’s a stereotype). He wasn’t enjoying it at all. I told him very early on in our relationship that I was planning to leave the Bay Area soon, and take a very long, very adventurous trip. Probably in the next couple of years, I said. Want to come? Of course!
|I will miss freezing, foggy nights watching the Giants at AT&T park.|
At the time, we yearned to leave immediately. I was in a transitional place with my friendships and had just started a new, slightly better but still not great job. Jeremy quit his coffee shop job for a job at a doggie daycare, which made him very happy (he LOVES dogs) but paid him so little he needed government assistance. We ached to take off, leave everything behind and go have adventures together. But we wanted to wait until we had more savings, and maybe after we got married. We wanted to be sensible. We approached our wanderlust…. practically. (Oh god I’m like one of those movies where an actor uses the title of the movie in one of their lines and then looks knowingly at the camera. Forgive me!)
The Life I’m Leaving
Since those early days, everything has changed. Jeremy found his dream career and spent 2 years teaching high school and absolutely loving it. I moved out of my job into a different role within the same company. Now, I like my company, my boss, AND the job I’m doing. The baby friendships I started really focusing on a few years ago have grown and I now have some fantastic close friends who I care about an incredible amount and will miss so much. And to satiate our travel appetites, we spent most of our weekends renting a car and exploring California, finding so many wonderful places and having so many adventures that I’ve formed a loving bond with the entire state of California. Moving, leaving all of this, even to have such a fun and incredible and exciting new journey, is bittersweet.
|The Bay Area… home.|
So I want to take some time to properly express my mourning in a little eulogy.
What I Won’t Miss While Travelling Long Term
Not everything in my life is perfect. There are definitely things I won’t miss about living in the Bay Area, under the shadow of Silicon Valley, with all of its San Francisco charm and grungy underbelly. Here are some of the things I’m happy to say good riddance to!
- My commute is an hour and a half each way. That’s 3 hours a day. 15 hours a week. 780 hours a year. Since I started my really great job, I’ve spent 81 days just travelling from my house to my job. That’s 3 months straight of just sitting on the train 24/7. And probably half of that spent waiting on BART delays. God damn. I want that time back.
|This is the view at the train station by my office. It helps soften the blow of my awful commute.|
- Not having a dishwasher. Jeremy and I pretty much never fight, but when we do, it is because of the dishes. Neither of us want to do the dishes by hand, but both of us want to cook and eat delicious meals that require various bowls, pots, pans, blenders, and utensils. Our sink is too small. And neither of us grew up hand washing dishes. We have a constant pile of dirty dishes in the sink at all times, and it drives me up the wall. One day I will live in an apartment again that has a dishwasher, a washer and dryer, and A/C, and I will appreciate it like I never did before.
|This is half of my tiny little kitchen.|
- The rent here is TOO DAMN HIGH! I have a great rate for my apartment, which is laughable, because I pay what would equate to a mortgage for a medium sized house anywhere else in the country, except instead of a house, I have an apartment that is slightly bigger than a closet, with 2 full grown adults squeezed into it. My standards for space are very, very low. One day “the floor” won’t be my only answer to “where can I put this?”
What I Will Miss While Travelling Long Term
Now that we’ve gotten the negativity out of the way .. in no particular order, here is what I’ll miss most about the life I’m saying goodbye to during our year of long term travel.
- My neighborhood, Rockridge. It’s beautiful and green and there are over 30 kinds of fruit and veggies and herbs that I can forage throughout the year and everything is flowers and trees and succulents and happiness. We live a block away from a weekly farmers market that has everything a bougie hipster like me could ever want. 10 minutes walking will get me to 3 different third wave coffee shops, a gourmet donut shop, the best tacos anyone’s ever had, award winning Burmese food… need I say more? I love where we live.
|My beautiful neighborhood of Rockridge, in Oakland. I love walking to the train every day through this!|
- My little apartment. It’s like a tiny treehouse. Half of the apartment is engulfed by a giant old avocado tree, so all you see out of the windows is tree. Throughout the year ripe avocados fall on the roof like missiles. We have a fig tree named Ella Figsgerald who we sometimes decorate for holidays.
- My cat friend, Jasper. He is not actually my cat. He is 14 years old, cranky, missing teeth, drools, and is constantly loudly meowing his indignance and irritation with the world. He lives down the street and wanders the neighborhood every day making stops to visit whoever he deems worthy. We made the list despite not feeding him, and he comes over most days and stays the night sometimes. He is the closest thing we have to a pet. It breaks my heart knowing that one day he will show up and meow outside of our door and we won’t be there to answer it.
|This is Not-My-Cat, Jasper. He’s old and I love him.|
- Having family nearby. My family has been spread out across the country for years, so having family within a day’s drive has been wonderful. It’s been so comforting and amazing to be able to have Christmas with family, or go on a family vacation. I hope that we’ll live near family again after we come back. I will miss being near ours here.
- San Francisco. We live in Oakland, and Oakland is great, but I LOVE San Francisco. Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford to live there. Until then, I’ll keep visiting and falling in love over and over again. From Karl the Fog to Dolores Park to trashy karaoke at Butter to Golden Gate Park to the Bridge to Telegraph Hill to the way the city treats every day like Halloween (Pride! Bay to Breakers! Thursday!) I just love this city SO much.
|San Francisco at night from one of the piers.|
- My friends. When I first moved here I joined a meetup group to make friends and ended up with far more acquaintances than friends, more obligations than exciting plans, and more drama than I was willing to deal with. But from that huge group, I’ve managed to whittle down my friends here to a small band of amazing people who I absolutely adore. I will take their friendship with me forever, but I will miss seeing them.
- Northern California. It is so beautiful and so diverse. Within a few hours drive I can find beach, forest, desert, snow, river, lake, ocean, mountain, hot springs… it is impossible to have nothing to do on the weekend when you live here. It is the best place to keep my wanderlust at bay because I am constantly exploring and having adventures within a few hours of home. Read about my favorite weekend trips from the Bay Area here.