For almost two years now, my husband and I have lived in a place we love-- a place we both grew up visiting for sun-drenched summer family vacations. We were only acquaintances then, and part of the love of living here was our separate memories brought together to make new ones—to make a new life here together.Unfortunately, in a city that survives mostly upon the mercy of tourists and busy summer seasons, the job market has been tough—honestly impossible. I have watched my husband struggle after 18 years in a very successful career, as he tried to navigate starting a new career path in a city that has been less than forgiving. I was fortunate to have consulting work that kept us afloat, but as I tried to add on to that in my own field, I found the same responses as my husband. Nothing. Worse than nothing. Rejection.
I have written before about my love for the San Francisco Bay Area, and part of that love was due to the career success I found there. To me, San Francisco will always be this magical place where you can reinvent yourself and take chances and find your strengths. It was that way for me over a decade ago in every way.
As we began to see that our future in the Myrtle Beach area was dim, my thoughts turned to the Bay Area. Was it still possible to go out there and strike out and make a new path? After years of recovering after 9/11 and the dot com bust- the reasons I had to leave the area in the first place- was the opportunity still there?
I still had friends and contacts to network with, and as I started to send out notes and ask about the career climate, I began thinking and dreaming about living in San Francisco again. I also thought hard about my husband venturing with me to a place that I love, but also a place that he has never been, and where he knows no one. In that same train of thought, though, I remembered how amazing it was when I first arrived in the Bay Area back in 1998, still very unsure of myself and what I could accomplish. I had taken a risk, and I had no way of knowing what the outcome would be. It was the best decision I ever made as far as career decisions go. I was able to forge a path for myself that I am certain I would not have been able to anywhere else. In the land of startup millionaires and small companies that get huge overnight, there is an entrepreneurial spirit that breeds opportunity. Thinking of my husband in that atmosphere, vs the employment climate here, made me happy. I knew that this move would be good for both of us.
Shea was ready for the adventure. Although he has been understandably scared and nervous, he knew we were going to have to move somewhere. And if we were going to move, we needed to do it once, end up in the right place, and build our future there together.
So, I networked and emailed, called and skyped, and hoped and held my breath. One phone call changed everything, I had an interview. With the hope of one interview, I was able to tell recruiters and agencies that I would be in town to meet with other prospective employers. With the help of several friends, I booked a ticket, flew to San Francisco, and over the course of three days, had five interviews. My plan was to simply add to the contracting work I have now, but in a city that pays five times what I make for contracting on the east coast. This would be enough to get us out the area, and afford Shea the opportunity to find his calling, find his path, and help us concentrate more on our happiness, and our time together, instead of constantly counting pennies to cover the bills.
My very last interview, a stroke of sheer luck, was the one where I left with my heart pounding. It was almost a fluke. A recruiter had forwarded my resume to a friend, and that friend happened to see it while I was still in San Francisco. She emailed…could we meet before I left? It was totally unplanned. I went to the agency, we all clicked. It was unbelievably fortunate. Less than a week later, after I was back home at the beach, they offered me contract work, with the promise of more to come once I was local.
Shea and I gulped, exhaled, and knew it was meant to be. We gathered our courage, talked through the logistics, got out our calculators, and began to make the pieces all fit together.
So, here we are. It is April 8, 2012, and this week—in just a few days—we will be in our car, with Bear, driving through nearly a dozen states, crossing borders, heading towards our future. We are driving almost the exact route I took back in 1998, not knowing what really lay ahead of me. I was trusting my gut, and hoping I was right.
That part is much the same now, except it is both of us hoping, both of us trusting our intuition, both of us ready to take the leap, take the risk, and see what the future holds. We are both excited and nervous. We are both prepared and completely unprepared at the same time.
We found a place to live due in large part to my friend Kim, who lives in the area. She visited locations for us, gave us the heads up on sketchy neighborhoods, and remained positive and upbeat through a very frustrating search. Our new home is waiting for us in a little town about 40 minutes outside of the city. It just happens to be the same little town I lived in before. I loved it. I know my husband will, too. And in one more sign that we are making the right decision, it turns out that a college buddy of Shea’s lives in the same town. About two miles from our new home.
I cannot wait to see Shea discover all the things I love about the Bay Area for the first time. I cannot wait to take him to Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Carmel, Sausalito, Napa, and all the other little areas that I remember with so much fondness. I cannot wait to see him grow to love it there as much as I do already. I cannot wait to see his career confidence come back in a way he never could have imagined after such a tough year.
I cannot wait for this adventure, this next chapter in our lives.
It may just be the best one yet.