I’m really adrift lately.
A lot of time these days is spent in my head. Most of it wondering about the big questions. Of primary importance is whether I should remain in San Francisco.
It keeps rising to the surface, moreso now because I said I wasn’t going to give this any thought until after the book was finished, and that will happen this summer. So, it is time.
The thing is… there is no compelling reason to move. It’s just that I can. The same lack of mortgage, boyfriend, career, car, and responsibility that allowed me to goad my employer into firing me presents ongoing opportunities.
I am not anchored here by anything more than friendships, few of which are deep enough to merit consideration.
The big picture is, as my unemployment is about to come to an end, it is expensive to live here. So, should I?
And, if not here, where?
The list usually includes the following culprits:
Portland, exclusively picked so I could study writing weekly with Tom Spanbauer. Not that Portland isn’t delightful. It is a great place to live, and the cheaest metropolitan area on the West Coast. It also satisfies the gay/vegan/car requirements, in that I can meet others, eat out at vegan places, and not need a car. I did enjoy the city, just not sure if it is right for me.
North Bay, north of San Francisco things do get cheaper. But then you have to add the car into the mix. Because once you get too far north, it all goes to hell for public transport. One thing that caught my attention, and honestly, had I seen this a few months earlier, I might have not booked my huge Texas trip and just moved north. But Sparks, the amazing vegan restaurant in Guerneville (which is moving, from what I understand) has a six-month chef training course. I assume it would pay, lest it just be endentured servitude on their busiest nights for no pay. It certain intrigued the hell out of me. Part of my plan moving forward is about the next wave of jobs (more on that later).
Back east? Always an option, because I do have a lot of family and friends there. Not that I would return to Wilkes-Barre or anything that crazy, but you know, Philly or something could be nice. I do wonder if I would want to be so urban if I were partnered. Would it matter as much? Once you get gay crossed off the list with a boyfriend, and consider that I cook all my own food most of the time anyway, it seems irrelevant whether you are in the ‘burbs. At least in theory, it does.
New York City is always on the list. Not that it would make sense for the reasons I am thinking of moving anyway. I mean, I would get a smaller place, in a busier, crazier city. But there is always a draw there. Something about it always calls out. I tend to think that if my book does well enough for me to upgrade apartments, I may upgrade coasts as well and just try a NYC run.
Then there are the more out-there ideas. Like why not just drift around Europe or Asia doing odd jobs, learning new languages and cultures, writing, and exposing myself to more of the world? Why focus on American metropolitan areas when there are places like Paris, Athens, Amsterdam, Rome, Tuscany, Prague, Thailand, India, and just so much else out there?
When you break it down, I basically see family like twice a year. Once in Texas, once in Pennsylvania (most years). This year, my parents are coming to San Francisco for a bit as well. And I am the one traveling to their locations. So, what difference does it make whether I fly to Dallas from San Francisco or Paris? Not to mention, with broadband Internet and services like Skype, we could talk for free over our computers easily enough (only an issue if I went to Asia and went a bit more rural where Internet connections are not as cheap).
The issue is the abundance of options. Phildelphia or something along those lines has the most significant potential to change things, because i would see more friends and family on a regular basis. But hell, something like giving people a free place to crash in Tuscany seems like I would be seeing a lot more people I know from across the US on a regular basis anyway. just for a week at a time and then they fly back home.
It does seem strange to feel so… rootless.
Now, to be sure, there are people who can make a valid point that I have yet to really experience San Francisco. Are there entire scenes, community of artists, gay happenings, and any other specialized pocket of interest that I have yet to take in? Of course. But, I think that is somewhat short-sighted, as I have experienced MY San Francisco. It will always offer more opportunities, more layers, more scenes, and more of everything, but that is true of any major city. There are things I could shut down the computer and run to right now if I wanted. There are concerts, and theater, and bars, and sex and whatever else happening all around me every day. I nearly went to the beach today until I saw that the coast winds for today and tomorrow, desptie the high temperatures were like 20-30 miles per hour, which seems more like a sandstorm than a relaxing afternoon.
And, clearly, with the weight loss, San Francisco will also change for me on the horizon. There will be more opportunities to date and all of that. And if I want to make new friends, then that can happen as well.
The other upside is that I have really reduced my footprint in recent years. I think all of the clothes that I currently wear could fit without trouble in my suitcases. Every piece of clothing! Of course, this is largely due to the weight loss, since I toss something as soon as I am in a smaller size and don’t own much yet in my current sizes. But still… I own more books than garments at present.
It almost seems like I should be subletting my place as a furnished apartment and exploring other places more with that freedom. I honestly can’t wait to find out what this book will pay me just so I have one less "unknown" hanging out ahead of me, just like knowing my unemployment will end in like a month brings clarity to my finances, too.
It is mainly a matter of arranging priorities, on a very confusing grid. I mean, how can I rule out going to Europe based on my family being "here," if I don’t live where my immediate family lives here anyway? Paris to Philadelphia is a $400 flight for 8 hours, as opposed to a $250 flight for 6.5 hours from San Francisco. So, it is a $150, 90 minute difference from where I am now. Clearly I don’t have to stay here just so my family can talk to me for five cents a minute. You can’t make decisions based on that.
So, what makes the decision? I mainly moved here because it was a gay mecca and the software industry interested me. Again, pretty flimsy evidence for making life decisions. Not that I regret it, but it is rather incredulous in retrospect. My instinct now is to wonder why I didn’t just move to NYC at that time, that would have landed me in gay mecca and publishing industry.
Mainly just thinking out loud here. There is a good chance I will be in San Francisco in ten years time. But, please, not in this apartment at least…
And then, just when you think, wow, that’s a lot of thinking and options, it is only WHERE I will live. There is also a larger picture thing as to WHAT I intend to do anymore.
I am trying to avoid writing professionally. Novels and essays are fine, obviously, but I really want to avoid writing in corporate settings. It is already rather established that my fiction writing can’t co-exist well with writing as a day job as well.
But, the big picture there is that I have been professionally paid to write now for 18 years. 18 out of 36. I’m sure that math is faulty, but it’s damn close to half of my life either way.
So, not only do I not know what I where i want to be, but what I want to do wherever I live is also up for grabs.
Sure, the answer is that I can hope the book takes off, or I marry up, but neither is likely to happen. I know people dislike when I say such things, as it sounds pessimistic, just like when I said I likely wouldn’t get the stegner fellowship. I’m not saying i don’t believe in myself. I’m just a realist. If 1200 people apply for 10 openings, you are more likely to be in the group of 1190 than the 10. That is all. I think the book is on a perfect track to being whatever it will be, but it is more likely to not make me a millionaire. If it does, fabulous. But it likely won’t.
Part of me is trying to piece together how to cobble a living together out of just doing new things all the time. Like the chance to learn to be a vegan chef for six months is a good example. Just a great opportunity to expand my field of vision, not bleed out my savings, and expose me to a whole new world of career, people, location, etc. And, on some level, it helps the uber-goal of writing as well, opening up new avenues for that to go.
So, that’s what’s been turning around in my head the past few days/weeks/months. Nothing new, just revisiting old themes really.
The real question might be why I am lacking one good anchor to which I can tie the other things.