You tend to talk a lot about moving when you’re, um, moving. Everyone wants to hear how things are going, and everyone has wisdom to impart. Which is good—I need to keep hearing that D.C. will be here, that New York will be here, that I can always come back. Everyone wants to know if I’m excited.
At the risk of sounding like a total asshole, I’m skeptical about San Francisco.
I say this all the time, but it’s true: I have the life I never knew I always wanted in D.C. Sixteen-year-old me would be in awe of the fact that my going-away party was at Black Cat’s backstage, and present-day me is unendingly grateful for the relationships I’ve established here. I’m comfortable, but not bored. I like my neighborhood, I like what I do on weekends, I like my yoga studio, I like the bars I go to, and so on. I like that I don’t need to experiment; I still try new places and new things, but I know what works for me. I appreciate this.
I know those things will come in time in a new city. Given that I don’t have friends from high school or college, I’ve already made friends as an adult, and I’m confident I can do so again. But I really, really like D.C. I’m not moving because I want a change, or because I want the experience of living in a different city. I’m moving because I got a job that I believe will position me well in the future, and because I did not earn a similar opportunity in D.C.
San Francisco is fine. I get why people like it. It’s naturally beautiful, but there’s only so many times you can bank on natural beauty making up for social experiences, you know? (I woke up looking at snow-covered mountains every morning in Boulder. It is still one of the prettiest places in the world to me. But I didn’t want to live there after nine months, so I left.) There’s stuff everywhere—like, even the far-flung neighborhoods have stuff (because density). The dining scene is great. All issues with gentrification in the Mission aside, Craftsmen & Wolves makes a baller salted chocolate chip cookie. You can bike to Sausalito. It’s a very livable city, and the day-to-day costs are lower than in D.C. or New York.
But at the end of the day, I am a tightly wound East Coast exceptionalist, and I would not feel as if I missed out on anything if I lived at 16th and Newton streets NW for the rest of my life. Seriously! I have lived hard here, in a great way—it’s why I don’t have a D.C. bucket list, which is another thing people like to ask about when you are planning to move across the country. But my “bucket list” is getting as much time in with my friends as possible. I’ll miss them infinitely more than Ben’s Chili Bowl, or the cherry blossoms, or the free museums, or even Friday nights at Smoke & Barrel. Sure, there’s stuff I’d like to do: ride my bike, try new restaurants (I haven’t made it to Roses’s Luxury), return to old favorites (Daikaya), sit on my balcony and read a book. I’m devastated to be missing a summer of Fort Reno.What will I do without Black Cat? I wish I had spent more time on the waterfront, in Meridian Hill Park, in Anacostia. I will miss being so close to New York, to Philly, to Atlanta, to Boston.
And all those things and places and events are great because they are filled with great people. I know that I can go to, say, Fort Reno alone, but that I’ll see friends and acquaintances that I genuinely enjoy. It is stability in relationships and confidence in my social life that I’ll miss the most, and no bucket list can give me enough of that.