This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of my big move across the pond (well … bay) to Coronado from downtown San Diego. By 2017 I had become pretty disenfranchised with living downtown. I moved into the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter in December of 1998 and at first it was everything I ever wanted: An apartment in an urban area with floor-to-ceiling windows, within walking distance of shopping, movie theaters, and—for a time—even a Borders bookstore two blocks away.
All of that came crashing down after a while. Borders went out of business, business rents skyrocketed causing restaurants to fail, and the plight of the homeless gradually overtook much of downtown. While I lived within one block of my office, I knew it was time to get out. So during Christmas break in 2016, I came over to Coronado and looked around (the photo above was taken on that reconnaissance mission) and six months later I had signed on the dotted line and got ready to move in.
I had pretty much made my decision to move while on a trip to London in the fall of 2016. I tend to do some deep thinking when I travel and it’s one of the reasons I look forward to it. And while my rent more than doubled, I was ready and willing to pull the plug on downtown and start over somewhere fresh.
If you’ve ever been to Coronado, it’s very much a beach-town, and very touristy, especially at this time of year (August, as I write this). I had to severely downsize to move, and I was lucky in that I knew someone who owned a used bookstore that was right in line with my areas of collecting interest. He and a co-worker came down, looked at all my books, made me an offer, packed up the ones I could—kinda, sorta—part with, and took them out. I went from 15 bookshelves to 6, which is all that would fit in the studio apartment I rented in Coronado.
18 months later all that changed. I was once again in London when I had the realization that life was too short and I was very uncomfortable in the studio apartment. It was cute and compact and I felt I had made the most of it, but having to make and unmake a sofa bed twice each day was a gigantic pain in the ass and—as usual—I yearned to have more space for (you guessed it) more books. One of my bosses at work had taken suddenly, horribly ill and would ultimately die within just a couple of months of his diagnosis. So I came back from the UK and looked at my options, and lo and behold, a one-bedroom apartment was about to become available two doors down from my studio; same building, same floor. And while it increased my rent by an almost-uncomfortable amount, I snapped it up, because … life is too short.
That was December of 2018 and I’m still in the same apartment. The rent has gone up a little but I love the place so much that I can’t see leaving it (unless the rent jumps a lot). I have a large balcony that I use almost every day, weather-permitting (and let’s face it, in San Diego, weather is almost always permitting). There are restaurants and a grocery store two blocks away, and if I desire something more “exotic,” I can roam up to “The Village,” where there’s even a small bookstore, plus numerous dining choices, and a movie theater (sadly still closed right now due to the pandemic). Friends who visit tell me it’s like being on vacation over here and that’s certainly the way I feel.
I’m incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to restart over here. It’s a great place to retire to (just don’t buy gas here … I saw it at $5.39/gallon last week) and I feel very content and settled here. I go “off-island” two or three times a week, but really—other than a comic book shop—just about everything I need is here or can easily be delivered.
So, happy anniversary to me. I hope there’s many more in my little island hideaway.