I used to live in San Francisco. Occasionally, when I tell Arizonians this fact, I get a raised eyebrow and “what made you move out here?” I usually give them my explanation in the form of a short story: it got too expensive to raise children in the Bay Area, I got tired of struggling just to make ends meet, too many homeless and litter and crowds. And the freakin’ fog! Sheesh! We never saw the sun.
But the truth is, I was drawn to something here. I was pulled, not pushed.
You notice I say “I” and not “we”? Willey fought the move every bit of the way. He loved the city where he was born and raised. He enjoyed the jacket weather, the fog, the coffee shops and action. He didn’t want to leave his friends, his family. I had no real attachments. I only miss my writing group (go Kicking Muses!) and SFSU. I had my fun, riding the J Church, grabbing coffee at Martha’s on 24th Street, dreaming at the pier, watching the waves go out, and come back in again. I had worked in high rises in San Francisco, heard the horror story of a crane that went down just across the street and killed a woman in her car, right across the street from my posh office. As a recent college graduate, the City was heaven: art galleries, bars, and boutiques dotted the City throughout. San Francisco is a 7 by 7 mile square. One can easily walk from one end to the other early Saturday morning, starting from the Pacific Ocean and end with lunch downtown. I fell in love with the artistic energy of the City. Armed with a desire to make movies, I interned for an independent film. I watched actors prepare for their scenes and then deliver them. I made several short-short films and attended International Film Festivals. It was a dream come true for a “me” generation person in her youth.
But Josie was born and 16 months later, Ava came along. I had to carry a stroller, diaper bag, snacks and two children everywhere I went.
- Parking was always a 20 minute endeavor, minimum. Then, after finding parking (at the grocery store, the mall, the doctor’s office), I had to lug all of that to the door and then open the door without help.
- Couped up in the house, I’d bundle the girls and put them in the double stroller, leash the dog and go for a walk. Neighbors, seeing us walk by their yards, would raise the windows and yell, “don’t let your dog pee in my yard!” And then slam windows shut.
- Taking the girls to Golden Gate Park one day, we stumbled upon a used hypodermic needle in the sand box!
- Fog, fog, fog and then….more fog.
- Willey left our garage door open one day and within 20 minutes, someone had entered our garage and stolen several of his tools and his bike. All this was done in broad daylight.
Sounds trite to allow this to bother you, I know, but when your day is spent trying to find parking and doing mundane things AGAINST the flow, well, life just sucks. There just had to be an easier way, a more enjoyable way of living!
One day, wearing my fleece jacket, fleece pants and socks in our drafty kitchen, I read an article in the SF Chronicle about Gilbert, AZ. It was one of the most popular new destinations for young families:
- New homes twice the size of our SF home, half or even one-third the price;
- Great schools;
- Sun, sun, sun!
- Dog parks everywhere and,
- Low-cost living.
It was just what I wanted. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was working part-time at SFSU and gearing up to go back to work teaching elementary school full-time. I was battling SFUSD who kept losing parts of my files, ( little things, like my fingerprint card, letters of recommendation and transcripts). I informed Willey about this new place. He couldn’t see us in Arizona: too hot, flat, boring and void of culture. I answered, “let’s just look.” So we packed the girls up and took a flight out. Willey and I couldn’t agree on any homes in Gilbert. I liked this one, he didn’t. He liked one and I didn’t. Our real estate agent, a gorgeous, tall, pixie blonde named Goska, suggested Mesa. “It’s full of natural beauty.” We saw a home butted up against some “mountains” (OK, maybe very tall hills is more accurate). The sun was coming down, leaving the sky a hot pink, orange and yellow. It was stunning. When the sun left, a curtain of black laced with stars surrounded us. Willey and I agreed, this was gorgeous. We loved it. Our SF home was up for sale that week. It sold within two. We put an offer on the Boulder Mountain house and the rest is history.
This weekend, I went to the Breadsmith in Las Sendas and purchased bread made from scratch that morning. As I left the store with warm bread in hand, I noticed a bicycle leaning against the building. I smiled, knowing that the owner would find it still there upon his return.