I had just finished my post-college graduate travels throughout Europe and the Middle East and found myself on the brink of a quarter-life crisis. Being single and without a job, I figured I could call an old girlfriend from high school, buy an iPad, search for a job that would lead to a middle management career at best, and settle down in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. As tempting as that sounded, I wanted to see what else was out there, so I decided to drive hell for leather to California.
There was no particular destination in mind. I had no intentions on jumping into the Hollywood rodeo. Bracing myself on top of the bull they call the acting world and getting eight seconds of glory (if I'm lucky) was not for me. With those thoughts in mind, I decided to dodge the City of Angels altogether and head to Orange County. The smell of eucalyptus in the air, inhabited rolling hills, beautiful beaches and small-chain burger venues had me hooked. I settled down, found a job and got used to living in a city that looked like a resort town.
My contentment lasted for a few months until I met a beautiful woman that changed everything. I try not to get caught up in clichés but I was truly a victim of love at first sight. She was young, attractive, did yoga regularly, and was unlike anybody else I had ever met. Her name was San Francisco.
We met while I was visiting some friends for an extended weekend in the Bay Area. She proved it possible to get around without a car when she introduced me to a close friend named BART. He took me two blocks away from the couch I would be crashing while I was on my mini-vacation. BART and I hit it off right away.
Little needs to be said about the architecture that surrounded me and my new love as we got to know each other better. This was the first time since my travels in Europe that I would stop and stare at the buildings and houses on every corner. Was I still in the United States? Maybe my confusion was the result of being surrounded by the water of three different coasts, or maybe I was just caught up in the realization that I was somewhere unlike anywhere else I had visited in this country before. Everything around me felt foreign. I wanted to become a native to the people that walked the streets around me. I come in peace, friends.
My first day in the city I grabbed a burrito in the Mission and joined some friends at Dolores Park. I was sitting there watching the friendly people around me, feeling like I was 60 years late to poetry reading by Allen Ginsberg. It was at this moment I knew that I need to make San Francisco mine. Never one to participate in a long distance relationship, I started planning a move up north to be with her.
So here we are six months later. I quit my job in the South and left the warm weather to move up north. Once again I am starting from scratch and sleeping in my friend's dining room. Ultimately, I traded in pierogies and the snow of the Midwest, for fog and fixed gear bikes. I am once again without a job and have no place to live. Love makes people do crazy things.
It is now time to figure out what San Francisco will inspire me to do. Maybe I will follow Kerouac's footsteps and get lost in Big Sur for a few weeks. Maybe I will grow a beard like Brian Wilson's and buy Giants season tickets. Maybe I will develop a start-up company. My new girlfriend has "hella" things to offer, and it will be years before I begin to scratch the surface of everything she has to offer.