On San Francisco

Earlier this year, I moved to San Francisco with two girlfriends from college.

I had been living at home in Sunnyvale for nearly two years, after graduating Stanford. I considered moving out, but there was no real impetus driving me, especially during the pandemic. I was happy living at home and got the unique opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with my parents and grandmother as an adult. I helped my younger brother with school, went on walks with Dean (my neighbor and close friend), and read a lot.

At first, it felt sad and slow; the uncertainty of the pandemic was exhausting. I was angry about missing my last quarter of college, but I was more anxious about not knowing when I would see my friends again. Some things helped: I played online Coup with a group of friends pretty regularly and I used Netflix Party to watch an ample amount of TV with one of my best friends from college. Our family would watch old movies together, and I started a new job with coworkers I loved.

We all remember what those early days felt like. It was long and felt like a fever dream, except for those events that reminded you that the world is still happening around you (BLM, 2020 election, Jan 6 Capitol Riots). Mid 2021 was when things started to feel a little more normal again. Some of my college friends had moved to the Bay Area and I started making trips to Palo Alto and San Francisco to see them. I had a huge birthday party (in between the two variants) where friends I hadn't seen in years flew in. My family took a trip to Maine, and I went to LA and New York to visit friends.

My roommates and I signed the lease for our Cole Valley apartment on Halloween of 2021. It was one of those things where I only realized what had happened after everything was already said and done. I decided to spend the rest of the year at home in Sunnyvale, and officially move in the first week of January after New Years.

Living in San Francisco is exhilarating. But there are many reasons why I, especially find it that way. The first is that I grew up in a suburb. Although we lived close to SF, we would only go about once every two months for a nice dinner or to do some touristy activity. The second is that I went to college in a suburb. Palo Alto is by no means a college town, and about 99% of my time in college was spent on campus. While many schools have the privilege of being accessible to a big city (Columbia, UCLA, UDub), Stanford is not exactly a stone's throw from San Francisco. Although the Caltrain can get you there in 40 minutes, just getting to the Caltrain from the dorms is a haul, and there's nothing really near the Caltrain stop in SF anyway. So San Francisco, truly, is the first big city that I've ever become intimate with.

The third reason, and probably the biggest, is that I am surrounded by friends here. Many of my college friends, who are in similar careers as I, live in SF. Many of my high school friends do too. And a lot of my coworkers (except Jonn and Yifan, I miss you two!) chose to move out here as well. There is something very comforting about seeing a friend one day, and then knowing exactly when I'm going to see them again. And there's something even more comforting in making new friends through your old friends. San Francisco makes me feel warm and happy and loved.

There's a running joke among my friends, fed by my own histrionics and antics, that I hate New York City. The reason behind it is pretty justified: people in San Francisco love telling you how much they want to move to New York. And I'll concede to a couple things: yes, New York has better public transportation, and yes, people dress better and there's more professional diversity. I don't know if it's easier to make friends there or to date, because I've heard mixed reviews about both, but it definitely is nice that things are open later (giving more opportunities for the aforementioned social interactions).

But when I'm in New York, even just for a couple days, I very often find myself missing San Francisco. Maybe it's because I grew up near there. Maybe it's because I haven't travelled enough. Maybe it's because I am romanticizing my first big girl job and big girl apartment. Maybe it's because I just love my friends here so much.

Whatever it is, it's home. Happy (almost) one year to my favorite city in the world.

Disclaimer: If I ever move to New York, I never wrote this.