I am up tonight, struggling. Struggling to sleep, struggling to make an important decision, and struggling to understand how someone related to me can be doing horrible things that are hurtful and incredibly selfish. It frightens me.
Earlier tonight that I was scanning through San Francisco photos from my time living there, and searching out my friends from that time in my life on Facebook. It seems that when I am struggling with something, I often miss the Bay Area and try to “visit” there visually, or through my friends who still live there.
I may be romanticizing things a bit, but that was one of the happiest, most fulfilling times of my life. My only regret is that I didn’t realize how magical that time was when I was living it. Do we ever? I wonder that. Right now, I know that I am living the absolute happiest time of my life. I know that having my husband, sharing a life with him, is the fulfillment of a dream I never thought would happen. So, I do appreciate now. But, this was a dream I had given up on, so I think it is more natural that I realize what I have now, and how precious that is.
When I moved to the San Francisco area in October 1998, I had no idea what was going to happen. I had only been to San Francisco a handful of times before, and I didn’t know if I would sink or swim in a new place where I knew almost no one. Before I moved, I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, and while in San Francisco on business for my company, I found out about an opening at another company, interviewed, was hired and the new company wanted me onsite in two weeks. It was frighteningly fast, and left me no time to think. It was a blessing in that sense. I think if I had longer to think about it, I might have been too scared to go. I was so different then.
Once I was moved and working, it became evident that I had lucked into the perfect place to be at the perfect time. I was working hard, and being appreciated in a way that I never had before, in a way that I didn’t even know was possible in a workplace. I was rewarded with praise, support from upper management, and an amazing group of co-workers who made work so much fun. It was the perfect atmosphere for me, and I learned and grew so much.
That decision in October 1998 literally made my career for me. Were it not for that decision and that position, I would not have had all of the amazing opportunities I have had since then. Sure, I have been through layoffs and work struggles. But, because of that first job in the Bay Area, I have had jobs, responsibilities, and experiences that have made me who I am…not just as a marketing professional, but as a person. I am forever grateful for that, and I know not everyone is so lucky, even when they are more than worthy through their education and work experiences.
So, I understand why I go back there in my mind when I am having inner turmoil. It is not just missing the city, I think it is also feeling comforted by those accomplishments, the appreciation, and the friendships I had there. To this day, I can email friends from that time and feel such a connection. I was so fortunate that so many people wanted me to feel welcome in a new city and a new job and went out of their way to make me feel a part of everything. I miss that. I miss them.
I have friends that mean everything to me, and for the most part, they are all scattered across the map. I am thankful for Facebook because it is so hard to keep in touch through emails and phone calls. Seeing the pictures of everyone’s growing children, sharing in birthday celebrations through status updates…I love it. I love that in that sense, we are all still connected.
I know I can’t run away from the things that are troubling me tonight. I know putting a country’s worth of distance between me and some of my family won’t really solve anything. I know that if we moved to California tomorrow, everything wouldn’t be perfect. I am just longing for a time when so many things in my life were running smoothly. I was making good money, I loved where I lived. So many of my friends were a short drive or a quick train ride away. I loved the work I did and felt appreciated. A lot of the pieces were in place. And honestly, at times and given my family history, it did help to be farther away.
My husband Shea was the only missing piece. And now that I have him, I wish I could turn back time a little and share some of those experiences with him.
I am rereading these words and wondering if I sound crazy.
It’s always hard, I guess. Things are never perfect.
But, tonight, I am dreaming of the beautiful memories I have of California: My drive into work those first years when the views of the city and the Golden Gate would take my breath away, my first trip to the beaches at Inverness and the small pebbles that made up the sand, the small grocery markets with their cornucopia of beautiful produce and fresh-baked bread, my little apartment in Walnut Creek with the tall purple flowers outside my window, the quaint street in Los Altos where I spent so many Saturdays walking from shop to shop- always ending in the antique store that I loved.
Tomorrow I will wake up with the same decisions to make, the same worries, and the same struggles. I will walk outside and smell the salty air and be thankful that I can spend my lunch break with my toes in the sand if I want to. It will all be ok. But tonight, my heart is in San Francisco, and revisiting a time over a decade ago when so many things were just beginning for me, a time when I took a chance and made a sudden decision that changed everything—all for the better.
The artwork above is by Megan Nolton, view more of her beautiful work by clicking here.