Remind Me Why I Like it Here Again

Posted: June 21st, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: City Livin', Friends and Strangers | No Comments »

I swear I’m not sitting around the house wallowing in a sea of one-eyed self pity. But I must say, there is something in the air that’s got me in a mild funk, and I think it’s the growing number of friends who seem to be high-tailing it out of the Bay Area.

Monday the Politos packed their bags and bid SF an adieu after 16 years. School issues, the high cost of living, job stuff and general city-attitude malaise wore down Julie’s will to continue on here. And after a night of discussing whether a move to Marin or some other part of the Bay Area might be the antidote, the idea of Boulder, Colorado leaped to mind, and next thing you know they were on an exploratory mission looking at housing. Two months later their flat is sold, their kids and possessions are packed, and they’ve become our friends who used to live here.

In the time they were prepping for their move, they did what I’m sure I did when I decided to move out of NYC. They kvetched and complained about every element of this place that they couldn’t wait to be rid of. They lamented the public transit, the pushy people at the gym, the school system and the job environment. Granted, they had had a spectacularly crappy year for a number of reasons which may or may not have been directly associated with San Francisco. But at one point I had to sit Rick down (over email) and entreat him to suspend the Bay Area bashing until they were out of earshot from all of us they were leaving behind. Part of it was I didn’t agree with everything they were lamenting, and part of it was I agreed with some of it and just couldn’t deal with hearing it. I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and drone, “La la la la la la” until they stopped talking and decided not to move after all. (That never happened.)

The thing is, that things don’t suck for Mark and Kate and I here. Mark loves his job. I have a great gig too (when I have two functional eyes and am able to do it, that is). And even though we don’t own our house, it works for us and is in a great little ‘hood with neighbors we’ve come to know and a great library, restaurants and shops just two blocks away. Somehow, the shift just from SF to the East Bay has had an impact on some of the kinds of things it seems were getting the Politos down. People truly seem to be friendlier here. We’re not ensconced in fog. And where SF has an almost weird lack of children–babies, sure, but no kids ever to be seen–we’re in a vertible family wonderland here.

But sometimes, despite all this, I feel like my emotional attachment to this place is tenuous. I think about all those places where successful professionals and their families are living happily in large homes they own, in good school districts and with friendly neighbors. And no one is working 70 hour weeks to sustain the dream. Beyond the fantasy image of this place though, I come up against a roadblock when I try to determine just where this Utopia is. And when you add Mark’s career in the limited magazine realm to the picture, our potential pool for paradise locales dwindles to even fewer places. And let’s face it, New York City ain’t going to solve our real estate woes.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, who casually mentioned that he’s talking to some companies in Austin, Texas. He made it all sound like a remote possibility that he’d move–though he did remark on how damn affordable a 4-bedroom house with a pool is there. Despite his downplaying the potential for the move taking place, I could just tell that he is a goner. In six weeks we’ll be planning his goodbye party and Mark and I will be down another dear old friend.

Ah well. If you love them set them free, right? And maybe someday, when the time is right for us, the McClusky family will find our Boise, or Boulder, or Austin or wherever it is that the grass is greener. In the meantime, we’ll be chillin’ here in Oakland if you’re looking for us.

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