I’ve committed to writing and posting for 30 straight days. This is day 2. Some days may simply be paragraph, but today, it’s a novel. A reader asked me to share the story of how I moved to San Diego. Here goes.
It was 2009 and I was 23 years old. Obama had been our President for almost a full year and I was still so young, brave and naive. I’d just received a $600 tax return — my ticket out of Chicago. That money along with my final paycheck was all I had to start a new life on the west coast.
The plan to move to California happened at a Brandi Carlile concert (not to be confused with Belinda Carlisle) with my ex-girlfriend. Drinks were flowing and her beautiful voice pierced our eardrums in the best way. I shouted through the noise, “let’s never do another Chicago winter! Let’s move to California this year!” And that was it.
The next morning, I woke up and started scrolling through Craigslist apartments in San Francisco and San Diego.
We settled on San Diego because the cost of living is so much more manageable. I’d never even been there but what’s not to love about 70 degrees and the beach? I realize now how strange it is to move somewhere you’ve never visited, but at the time that didn’t phase me.
I got rid of most of my belongings and packed what I needed into a few suitcases. Neither of us owned a car because we lived in Chicago and relied on public transportation – I figured I could do the same in San Diego. **Note: You can NOT do the same in San Diego.
The weather was already starting to shift as I hopped aboard a one-way flight to San Diego on November 1st. I felt like I was escaping just in the nick of time.
I didn’t know a soul in San Diego and didn’t have a job lined up, but when I saw the rows of palm trees and sparkling water, I knew it would be just fine. I would make it work.
I don’t come from a family that believes in supporting their children financially in their twenties, so I really had to make the most of that $600. I’m actually grateful for that because it also granted me the freedom to do whatever I wanted with my life. No strings attached. Unlike some parents who would point out the nine million reasons why moving across the country with no money was a bad idea, my mom was extremely supportive and encouraging. She can be impractical at times but she always leads with her heart and encourages me to do the same. She instilled a sense of independence and freedom early on in all of us kids, and I’m eternally grateful for that.
I stayed in a hostel (that “s” is significant) in downtown San Diego for a week while searching tirelessly for jobs and apartments. I figured it was the most economical choice but even a hostel is expensive when you don’t have a job. The guests were mostly travelers from around the world just stopping through San Diego to check out the beaches. I was here to stay.
I’d wake up early every morning and walk to the nearest Starbucks where I popped open my laptop, hopped on the free wifi and began job hunting while munching on a spinach feta wrap.
I applied for jobs until my eyeballs hurt and then started calling on apartments for rent. I quickly learned public transportation in San Diego is just not a thing and ended up walking miles and miles to check out rental properties. It was hot. I was sweaty. At times, I was frustrated. Who was going to rent to two people without jobs?
By some crazy chance, someone actually did. We lucked out and found a super nice place in a great area without having any proof of income. Considering how competitive the renters’ market is here in San Diego, that will always baffle me. Fate?
Still jobless but thrilled to have a home, we rented a big van to do an IKEA haul and stock the new place. When starting from scratch, you need literally everything from furniture to forks to towels. It’s a lot. We ended up with a truckload of Swedish furniture….and an accident. I crashed the rental van that I actually wasn’t technically supposed to be driving. It’s a long story. It wasn’t the best start. I cried a lot that night and felt like I may officially be a failure. That was the only moment I can recall questioning the decision to move.
After a week of scouring the internet for jobs, I decided to take it upon myself to drop my resume off in person at a nearby spot that was hiring for an Executive Assistant. This is typically frowned upon but I knew I needed some face time to get my resume looked at. And it worked! I was called in for an interview and was offered a job at a fantastic non-profit just a mile from home. The best part: I didn’t even need a car!
I had a bike sent from back home and used it to get around for awhile. I eventually got a white jeep wrangler like I always wanted. So basic and oh so impractical. #beachlife. Month after month I was settling in and setting down roots. I was forging friendships and making this city my home.
A lot has changed since that move seven years ago and I am so grateful for the blind courage it took to get here. I would never, ever do that now. I am much too sensible these days and risks are now carried out in an orderly fashion after much thought and consideration. But sometimes taking big risks can lead to big things, and it makes me wonder if maybe I should be a bit less sensible from time to time…
In case you’re wondering all that’s happened since then: I continued to work in the non-profit world for 6 years, I started this blog, lived in countless apartments, my ex and I realized we’re better off friends, I fell in love with Brittany, we got a dog, moved to the beautiful coastal community of Encinitas, and I became a Run Coach and now coach runners across the country. I also work in Marketing for a health food company and life is exceptionally good. 🙂