Seventeen years ago today, I boarded a plane in Pittsburgh with just some clothes in a suitcase and my cat, Ollie (since deceased) in a giant cat carrier (even though he wasn’t a giant cat by any means), and embarked on an adventure that has been (so far) never-ending.
It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 17 years since I moved to San Diego. It was a great wide unknown for me. I had no job and no prospects for one. I had some savings. I jumped into an apartment that cost three times what I was paying for rent in Pittsburgh. I told the one person I sort of, kind of, knew that failure was not an option. I was not about to go running home with my tail between my legs.
eBay supported me that first year. It was pretty new in 1999, and I sold a lot of things I wish I still had. I finally got, not one, but two jobs in June of 1999, but six months without a steady paycheck was scary as hell, something I never want to go through again. In March of 2000, I took my current job, even though the money offer was even less than what I was currently making (which was about $20,000 less than what I made in Pittsburgh, thus proving the point that what you pay me is what I’ll spend).
I can’t fathom ever doing this again, picking up my entire life and moving somewhere new and strange. I had been to San Diego before (I started visiting every summer in 1992) and loved it. It was always my goal to retire here, and one day, after a painful realization that my life in Pittsburgh was going absolutely nowhere, I decided to just come out and look around. I took the first apartment I looked at (I still live in the same building). I drove my tiny Honda Civic CRX across the country in November and left it here (packed with some much-needed essentials, such as a box of cat toys), until I arrived via plane. My stuff arrived two weeks later.
Not many people get to press the reset button on their lives. I did, and luckily I not only survived, but thrived. I am healthier, richer (financially and in many other ways), and more creatively fulfilled than I ever was before. There are still parts of my life that are missing (I’m guessing at this point I’m never going to get pregnant), but I’m comfortable, I have plenty of books, and I’m doing okay. Better than okay, upon copious self-examination, and believe me … I self-examine copiously.
Making that leap in 1998 was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I have no regrets. 17 years later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else other than San Diego, although London would be kind of nice. Or Portland. Or Seattle. But it’s hard to ignore the immediate charm of a palm tree swaying in the breeze against a clear (or cloudy … I’m fine with that) sky in 72-degree sunshine. And I think that’s pretty okay … which, coming from me, is high praise indeed.