City Vibes

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(ORIGINAL POST DATE: Monday April 11, 2011)

The idea of settling down really scares me and I’m at that point in my life where a lot of my friends are buying houses or moving into apartments with the plans to stick around for a few years. They all have serious boyfriends and girlfriends and know what cities they want to/are going to stay in for a few years.

I am nowhere near this point. I’m lost. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, I don’t know really where I want to live etc, I just know that I can’t stay in DC much longer than this. I never had a good feeling about moving here. I knew that it was the right move, that this job was perfect testing grounds for my interests, but the city just feels… wrong. I have not once in my 6 months here felt remotely close to calling DC home or even feeling like more than an outsider. I just have bad vibes from this city.

I believe that a city has an aura of it’s own. That by being in a city, you can feel the social and cultural vibes of life prickling at your skin. The aura is cultivated by the feelings and actions of those living within it; by the types of commerce and general life disposition. To me, DC feels wrong.

For some reason, I have been feeling this pull toward the west coast – mainly Seattle. Why? Who the hell knows. But I feel like that is my next step. Well I did anyway. This was until two weeks ago when I visited my cousin in San Francisco.

The west coast always held this air of mystery for me. It was this unobtainable place 3000 miles away across the great Mississippi River, over the plains and the towering Rocky Mountains. I never thought that I would really enjoy a city in California.

The only thing I knew about California was that it was always sunny, weed was legal, a lot of movie stars lived there and the only real experience I’ve had was watching Laguna Beach and The Hills. Oh and I guess that Napa Valley has wine and Yosemite is pretty awesome. I’ve never been further west than Detroit. It is crazy to think that I’ve been to 7 countries in Europe, 2 in North Africa, and 1 in South America but have barely touched the far corners of my own country. Not that it’s exactly cheap or easy to travel the US. Gas prices are over $4 a gallon (oh and I don’t even have a car), plane tickets are half my pay check most of the time, and train tickets aren’t far behind. California has always had this strange foreign feel to me.

I find it hard to express in words how much I am in love with San Francisco. I was lucky that the weather was perfect while I was there. I know that the weather isn’t like that all of the time, but that is part of why I am attracted to the city. Sunshine is wonderful, but I think one needs to have fog and rain for a healthy balance. I love how mysterious the world feels when it is covered in a blanket of fog.

San Francisco has a wonderful vibe. I felt at home even though I was only there for 4 full days. I was sad to leave. I couldn’t sleep on my red eye back. I was too worried about when I could get back to San Fran; whether to visit or to live.

You see, DC and San Francisco are very different cities. They both feel differently and have their own lists of adjectives which describe them perfectly – to me anyway. I know there are many people who will disagree with me especially about DC.

Here is how I see DC: Cold (in personalty, not temperature), presumptuous, proper, fleeting, snooty, gray, busy, uninterested (as in uninterested in your life). You are hard pressed to find people in this city that actually give a damn about meeting new people for the sake of knowing someone new and sharing their interests and life stories. This is something you pick up from being out and talking to people, or well trying too, or even noticing that about 5 people in your office have the same new years resolution: to actually be nice to people and meet new people. If someone actually has to force them self to talk to someone new or go out in social situations, this is not the type of person I want to surround myself with. The few people I have found on my own that actually are social and want to meet new people outside of their usual circle of friends, are the people from Pittsburgh who are a part of the hockey viewing group I am a member of.

No one is really NICE here. No one cares about you. You are a nuisance to them. I went walking on a nature trail through the woods near my apartment last Monday. I passed 3 groups of people. I smiled and said hi to all. After all it was a beautiful spring day. They all glared at me. Not one person returned my greeting. Thank you for the hospitality.

I feel bad about my love of thrift shopping (not that there are actually any thrift stores or discount clothing stores in DC) and lack of a manicurist (which is funny because I get compliments on my nails ALL the time and the first question is “Who do you go to! I should go there!”). Silly people. I do my own damn nails. Seriously though, if I want to hit up a Ross Dress for Less (where I’ve picked up things that I get compliments on ALL the time), I have to go way outside of the district lines. They had a hard time even getting an OK for a wal mart in the district. How dare they!

Maybe I am just biased, but I really just feel like an outsider here. I keep waiting for my internship to end and for me to go back to Pittsburgh and go back to school. That won’t be happening, but I sure won’t be sticking around here for more than a year and 1/2 or so. [it also creeps me out that everyone is so thin and girls are ridiculous about eating more than oh i don’t know, 500 calories a day].

San Francisco on the other hand, loves me. It embraced me with it’s ocean and beautiful flora, thrift store and discount stores,  figured girls that aren’t afraid to eat, and friendly demeanor of all. I am, without a doubt, in love. I made new friends, bought some awesome discount dresses (which gained me a load of compliments back here in DC), and may have found the place that I want to be… at least for a year or two.

People keep warning me that it is expensive. Well I get that. However, don’t tell me a place is expensive when I’m already living in one of THE most expensive cities in the united states. I can guarantee you that the rent in my cousin’s empty room is almost 1/2 the cost of my room here… and I would have a view of the Ocean. Not just a partial view squeezed between buildings, but I can see the waves and walk there in 15 minutes.

[here are some notes on this. I did an internet search and found that San Francisco does seem to be more expensive than DC, but you need to take things into account here. DC was also lumped in with Arlington, Alexandria, Northern Virginia, and Maryland in order to find averages. Well of course it is going to bring down the cost of living. NoVa and Maryland are definitely cheaper than DC, but then cost of transportation needs to be factored in. In reality, it is just as expensive or more expensive to live in DC than it is to live in San Fransisco. Also, I won’t be buying a house, and it is more expensive in SF to buy a house than it is in DC. It is cheaper to rent in San Francisco than it is to buy. Moving on.]

Food is cheaper. Drinks are cheaper. People are nicer. The city isn’t gray. It is vibrant, loving, creative, inspiring, embracing… That is what I want to surround myself with.

So, I’m starting the job hunt. In San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge
Chinatown
Lunch at Farmers Market
Sunset on the Pacific Ocean
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2 thoughts on “City Vibes

    A selfish review of 2011 « paperballpotluck said:
    December 20, 2011 at 12:17 am

    […] visit to San Francisco. I’m not going to elaborate on it very much. You can read all about it here. It was love at first sight. I needed to move to San Francisco and that is why I’m here […]

    […] Wow. I know that when I visited last year, I wrote a post comparing SF to DC. It’s called City Vibes. Go read it. There are […]

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