Exactly two years ago today, my one-way flight to San Francisco from Orlando landed at SFO. I walked off the plane excited, but terrified. I arrived alone that night, because Dave was already in San Francisco starting our life. (Well, he was also at the airport, because he had gone back to Florida for a bachelor party that weekend, but that’s neither here nor there.)
We walked out of the airport together, tired, confused and having absolutely no idea what our lives were about to look like. Now let me take a step back ….
How this Lady went West
For those of you who are newer to A Lady Goes West, for about the first year-and-a-half that I had this blog, I wrote an entry once a week about my adventures living in San Francisco to keep in touch with my family and friends. It wasn’t until March of this year, that the focus of this blog became more about fitness, food and fun. If you look back in the archives, you’ll see very honest recaps of how hard it was to move across the country, leaving behind everyone and everything I had ever known.
But over the course of the past two years living in San Francisco, I’ve become a stronger and better version of myself. It hasn’t been easy. Outside of the logistics, like living in an empty apartment awaiting our belongings to be delivered more than two weeks late from across the country, or finding my way around a new city on foot, there have been larger things at play. Big life things. Big life learnings.
I thought today was a great day to bring back these first-hand open-book honest ramblings that I used to share. So let’s get to it …
What I’ve learned from two years of living in San Francisco
- You only have one life, so use it. I could have stayed in Florida forever and been comfortable, but I always would have wondered what it was like to live in a big urban city. I chose to make this move, and I have no regrets.
- Distance does not get any easier. People said it would take time to get used to living so far from my family, but it would eventually be easier. Untrue. It does not get any easier. While I’m now more accustomed to the fact that it takes a six-hour flight to see my Mom, Dad and Brother, it doesn’t mean that I can handle it any better, nor that I can put it out of my mind. But that’s the way it is right now.
- People and experiences matter. Things don’t. I used to care a lot more about stuff than I do now. While I still like my designer bags, I don’t shop as much, I don’t walk around stores as much, and I don’t have nearly as many material things as I used to. Dave and I live in 550 square feet, and our belongings have had to reflect that. We’ve sold and donated so much over the past two years, and it feels good to live with a little less. I used to care so much more about having everything, but now I care more about experiences rather than stuff.
- Things don’t always work out how you want them to. For my first six months of living in San Francisco, I worked in a contract role at the Les Mills office. Les Mills is the international group fitness company who makes the classes I teach, and I’ve been obsessed forever. I made a great early connection with some people who worked there and was offered a temporary role at the office. Those six months gave me so much happiness and enjoyment every single day. I met some famous Les Mills personalities, did a ton of workouts, learned so much about a company I loved, and in the end didn’t get the full-time job they nearly promised me. I was totally crushed, because I felt like things were supposed to work out that way. But they didn’t. My career path since then has been all over the place, but it’s finally about to land just where it was meant to be. And I wouldn’t have known that, had I not had some disappointment along the way.
- It’s harder to make close friends the older you get. Dave and I have done a pretty good job at making new friends in San Francisco and have a few couples and groups that we hang out with regularly. But I don’t have a very best friend out here like I used to always have elsewhere. Once you’ve hit your late twenties, it seems like it’s not as easy to spend a ton of time with a friend and become BFFs instantly. It takes time, and I look back at my Florida friends and continue to cherish them even more, even though we don’t chat as often as we should.
- You can get through anything with a good partner. Dave and I have never been closer than we are right now. Moving across the country was hard to do, but the time we have spent here building a life, has given us the rare opportunity to truly learn more about each other. Outside of the fact that we both work a ton, we really do get to have some quality time together, and it’s been amazing. Not only do we share a tiny little space together, but we share in each other’s good and bad. We’ve had awesome adventures, we’ve had truly hard times, and we’ve been each other’s best friend throughout it all.
- Big cities have their ups and their downs. If you want to have non-stop activities available to you, then living in a big city is the way to go. I can’t believe how much there is to do all the time and how many new products, companies and services are launched here. But it comes at a price. It’s busy. It’s loud. It’s crowded. There are always people everywhere. It’s incredibly expensive for everything. And I mean incredibly expensive.
- You can’t plan your life out exactly. You have to roll with it. If you would have told me more than two years ago that I would be a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and writer wearing a backpack and sneakers everyday living in California, I would have laughed in your face. I had some plans for my fancy life, and I never would have guessed the path would have led here. But it did. And now I’m just rolling with it, without a clear plan ahead.
The pros and the cons of San Francisco living
On Sunday, as Dave and I were on a picnic in the great outdoors, I told him I was going to write this post and asked him a few questions about our two years. Here are his thoughts as well as mine:
What’s your favorite thing about living in San Francisco?
Dave: The proximity to gorgeous settings like the mountains of Marin, the redwoods and all of the nature areas that we can reach within a 30-minute drive. (Dave lives for hiking and picnicking with a scenic vista.)
Me: The endless amount of things to do all the time. I love the thousands of restaurants, festivals, activities and fun of being in a big city.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in San Francisco?
Me: Being so far from my parents and brother. But the rent is pretty awful too.
What’s your favorite memory during our time here?
Dave: Our amazing all-expenses paid weekend in wine country during Live in the Vineyard a few months after we moved here when we got to see live music and drink wine at VIP events. But going to Tahoe for the first time comes in at a close second.
Me: Ditto. Those were perhaps the coolest weekends ever. And I mean ever.
We’ve found a pretty good routine and way of life in San Francisco, but there are always changes around the corner. So for now, we’re going to enjoy the ride.
Questions of the day
Have you learned any life lessons lately?
When was the last time you moved?
Have you ever been to San Francisco?