Travel, like dating, is an exercise in possibilities. A thrilling rendezvous with a new city is all about getting to know each other, searching for a common connection. Do I like how this place makes me feel? Could I see myself, working, playing, and living here? Could I make a long-term commitment?
It’s a game that I’m always playing on some level, and it’s interesting to see how different cities stack up (I’m unashamedly a city girl, so that narrows the world down a bit already). I would live in Rome (maybe not forever, but for awhile), but not Florence. Budapest, but not Prague. Still, it’s rare for me to stumble across a city that I would seriously consider relocating to.
San Francisco is one of those cities. I fell for it hard and fast.
I wasn’t really expecting it. I could barely remember my first visit some 15 years ago. Vague impressions of sea lions and Alcatraz were all that really remained. When I decided to visit my college buddy Susan, who lives across the bay in Oakland, I was happy to see San Francisco again, but it was never a priority.
My first morning in town, Susan drove me out and over the Golden Gate Bridge, the cities most beautiful and famous landmark. In an uncharacteristically lucky move, the chilly rains had stopped the day of my arrival and given way to clear blue weather, which showered me my entire stay. The bridge was crisp, and iconic against the sunny bay and I knew right away that I was in trouble.
Over the next few days we did the sightseeing thing, both in and around the city (more on this later). The better I got to know the city the more I liked. There were mundane things, like how friendly everyone was, the clean and chill public transport system, the fact that everyone seemed to be walking a dog. Then the more romantic moments: rocking out at a Muse concert or standing knee deep in the Pacific in a party dress at 3 am.
As Susan drove me to the airport Saturday evening, I watched in awe as one of the most colorful sunsets I have ever seen stretched across the bay. The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline were highlighted against a rainbow spectrum of colors. I felt as if the city was beseeching me to stay. To my surprise I actually felt real sadness.
The truth is, I’m ready to move on from Washington. DC, it’s not you, it’s me. You are a fantastic, beautiful and interesting place with a lot to offer the right person. But it’s not me. After spending most of the past 25 years together, I’m ready to move on.
I’ve been looking around for a new home on a subtle level for some time now- flirting with different ideas for once I return from my big trip. I’m not saying San Francisco is the one; it could still be London (my old flame) or maybe somewhere I haven’t even met yet. But if this trip proved anything it’s that I’m on the market. I’m ready to make that leap- with the right place of course.