San Francisco, man.
It’s weird. Not in the “keep San Francisco weird” sense, but in the “every day is an exercise in cognitive dissonance” sense. I look around me and see everything, every type of human being that can possibly exist. Millionaires in Maseratis try not to look at the pile of people helping each other shoot up at 7am – wrapping rubber around their arms, surrounded by everything they own – right outside the entrance of companies worth billions of dollars, with employees inside that are showered, clothed, fed, coddled.
Can you tell the disparity gets to me? The disparity gets to me.
And I feel powerless to make any major changes. So I maintain my relationships with the homeless people I see frequently, give them my cash, ask how they’re doing, actually listen to their answers. I make eye contact with strangers that ask me for money. I tell them the truth when I don’t have cash, and I apologize, and I mean it. I do a lot of small things and still feel bad but keep telling myself that a lot of small things is better than nothing.
I got a job at a place I never, ever thought would hire me. The Big One. And I’m good at what I do, which was another thing I never expected to happen. Impostor syndrome. More cognitive dissonance. I shouldn’t be here. They’ll realize I’m a fraud. And in the next moment, I’m doing something important, and getting thanked publicly and profusely for my work.
But it’s not right, and it’ll never be right.
Together, we dream of forests and isolated cabins and working with raw materials to make real things – not digital things – and walking through nature and cooking and doing all the stuff we can’t do here. We dream of a house filled with music and incense, light and movement, peace, plants, animals. A home, just for the two of us.
Right now, we can’t fully stock a fridge or a pantry – with four other roommates, there’s no room, so we spend too much on food deliveries, perpetuating the financial disparity. We work all week so that we can get out of the city on weekends to bathe in green, refuel our tanks with an ocean breeze, or climb a hill.
Why are we here when we can be there?
I will always love this city, and this state will always feel like home. San Francisco will always feel like the kind of place where you can step off the plane and find whatever you want straight away: good or bad. What’s your mood? This city’s got you covered.
But we’ve changed, and our priorities are shifting. I’m walking away from a lucrative and fulfilling career, and I feel nothing. No remorse. When I start thinking about how I might be throwing something amazing away, I think about walking into the forest, hands trailing beside me, collecting dew from leaves. Lichen dripping from monstrous trees.
So, yeah. We’re going north.
We’re seeking psychological refuge on an island. We’re trading a large circle of good friends for a tiny circle of great friends. We’re trading the city for a small community. We’re trading nightlife and get-whatever-you-want-whenever-you-want-it with miles and miles of trees and moss and ferns, rainforest, lakes, beaches. We’re getting closer to my birthplace.
I’m in love. I’m excited and nervous. We’re holding hands and jumping into the unknown together, and I can’t wait.
I’m going home.