My first visit to San Francisco couldn’t have come at a better time. Rewind to June 2009: unsure of my decision to pursue a career in software after college, I took the LSAT in early June, and hopped a plane to celebrate in San Francisco with two of my sisters a couple of days later. Between the NYC winter, rehabilitation from my second right shoulder surgery, and LSAT studying, I had spent the better part of the past six months indoors. My exercise was limited to stationary biking, reaching for the treats on the top shelf with my good arm, and light weightlifting under the supervision of my physical therapist. Moreover, the time away from active pursuits gave me a new perspective on my environment, albeit one seen through the eyes of someone less motivated by fitness, and it became clear to me that NYC wasn’t the place for me to live at that point in my life.
Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of outdoor pursuits in and around New York City, and access to a car in conjunction with the Metro-North/LIRR opens doors. Much like city-dwellers in other places, the small things were starting to get to me, and I was becoming jaded. I wanted to ride my bike year round and register for half-marathons in January that didn’t consist of 19 degree weather and endearing names like “The Cold Ass Half”. Sixteen mile long runs on the treadmill during marathon training due to excessive ice on the sidewalks and horizontal sleet were not cutting it. Late nights at the bar were becoming the norm, I ate at restaurants I couldn’t afford and spent half of the year indoors; I wanted to spend my time and money in ways that would make me feel good at the end of the day.
When I got off the plane in SF and left my hotel room for my first walk along the Embarcadero, the gears were turning. Masking emotions has never been a strong suit of mine, and my sisters asked me point-blank: are you thinking about moving here? I was – sometimes you just know. To this day, it’s hard to put my finger on what exactly stuck out to me. The perfect 70 degree weather versus the heat and humidity we left behind in NYC didn’t hurt, nor did the plethora of running and biking paths that funnel into the iconic scenery of Chrissy Field. The air felt cleaner, the sky bluer, and after months pent-up inside a closet-sized East Village apartment that cost me a disproportionate amount of my paycheck, I knew that I had to reevaluate my priorities. When I got home from my trip, I spoke with my manager, and told him that I was interested in a move to our SF office.
A failed Spanish visa, four months in Mexico, and a promotion later, my bags were packed, and I was ready to relocate to SF. NYC didn’t let me go without a fight – my plane took off in the infancy of what became the blizzard of 2011. I’ll never forget staring out the window as the NYC skyline faded away, and making the playlist that would soon propel me along my maiden run from my Telegraph Hill apartment to the Golden Gate Bridge via the Embarcadero. I still get goosebumps every time I hear the opening riff to my favorite live version of the Stones’ Midnight Rambler. I think back to the moment when I dropped my suitcase, laced up my running shoes, and slogged through eight rainy miles – my first order of business as an SF resident. Since then, I’ve reaped the benefits of living in the environment that I’d always sought out. I spend time outside daily, whether it’s through formal exercise or a walk during work. Although I miss the seasons back east – especially fall and spring, I don’t miss chaining up my bike for the winter, punctuated training plans, and running the risk of being photographed in earmuffs; I even have a surfboard now.
Three years later, I live where I once vacationed. I still spend a disproportionate amount of my paycheck on rent, but Taylor does too, and for many of the same reasons. The small things have started to get to me, and I’m jaded about living in SF to some extent. I’m guilty of the occasional honk or finger in the tourists’ direction, but try to remember that I too had my picture taken in the same places. Who knows – one of them could be days away from having the same talk I had with my boss back in 2009.