So there’s something I’ve been hiding from you for eight long months. And I realize what that sounds like, but it’s not what you think. Rather…
We’re moving to Nashville.
Not only are we moving to Nashville, but we’re officially leaving San Francisco in FOUR DAYS.
I know, right? I’m sort of blown away by that, too, and I’ve known for nearly a year! I didn’t tell you not because I don’t trust you guys with our little secret, but because for professional purposes, it was best that I keep that under wraps until it was time to go. Most of our good friends have known about our move for many months—we couldn’t keep it from the people in our everyday lives, as it’s been such a huge weight on everything we’ve done since last fall—and I debated not saying anything until after Semester at Sea. But I couldn’t keep it from you any longer. Did you suspect anything at all?
On July 31—er, on Sunday—we’ll pack up my Altima and drive cross country over the course of eight days, with the final destination being my parents’ house in Tennessee. We’ll stay with them for 11 days, bid farewell to Ella on the 20th (*sob*), then fly to Boston, where my staff training for Semester at Sea starts. Our stuff will be shipped ahead of us via 1-800-PACK-RAT—the pod shows up today and departs California on Friday—and will be stored in one of my dad’s storage units this fall while we’re sailing around the world. Then when we get back, we’ll stay with my parents for a spell while we start looking for a place to live—rent? buy? we have no idea at this point—in Nashville.
We’re ridiculously excited for all the changes in our lives, plus the chance to start fresh in a city we love.
Does our hectic 2011 make a bit more sense now? The ski season pass, the six-week tour of the West, the all-around craziness? We’ve been trying to do all the things that are more accessible to us from California than they are via Tennessee before we leave. Funny enough, our original plan had been to leave on Aug. 15, then Semester at Sea threw us a curveball by hiring me late in the game. I briefly contemplated turning down the opportunity, as we already had our path planned and I thought the timing was poor, then my mom convinced us: “When will you have better timing? You were already leaving town in August. You won’t have a lease, bills, a house to take care. All of your things will already be in storage, and Ella can stay here. If anything, the timing is actually perfect.” (My mom, wise woman she is.)
So why are we leaving? The reason is rather a long, drawn-out, convoluted one and less a cut-and-dry answer. Simply put: This city has become unlivable (to us). If you don’t reside in the Bay Area and have only seen its shiny veneer from the rosy glasses of a tourist, then you probably have no clue what I’m talking about. If you, in fact, live here, as well, then I’m sure you can relate.
The fact is that San Francisco is an excellent place to visit, I won’t deny that fact. It’s one of the prettiest cities in the country, maybe even the world. But being aesthetically pleasing doesn’t mean it’s the best place to make a home, for us. Maybe it is for you. Maybe you’ve won the lottery or are perfectly content living in a 500-square-foot space—and that’s totally fine, to each his/her own—but we have different priorities. We want more out of life than San Francisco (on our budgets and income) allows us. We want a house. We want a place we can put SVV’s creativity and skills to use (the guy has a contractor’s license among many other credentials for God’s sake). We want to live in a stand-alone home where we’re not subject to hearing the dreadful, inconsiderate woman below us—for whom we have less than favorable nicknames—shouting into the phone at all hours of the day, having friends over and blasting her music at all hours of the night.
We want a backyard. We want a spare bedroom (or two…or three) so we can actually host friends who are visiting and show them what we love about the South and all its charming attributes. We want nice weather and seasons and a city where a wool coat is not needed 12 months out of the year. We want to live in a place where leaving our house doesn’t mean an $80 parking ticket every single time, no matter how carefully we follow the rules. (True story, in the past few months I have received two parking tickets in San Francisco when I still had time left on my meter! Two parking tickets on top of dozens of others for other “alleged” violations. That’s how bad it has become. SFMTA rules this city and not in a good way.)
But I really don’t want to write a whole post about what I don’t like about San Francisco, because we’ve had a good go here and part of me will always be here, will always love this city. I just think I will love it much more visiting a couple months out of the year than I do living here full time. It’s SVV’s home. While he was born in Portland, he’s lived in California since he was two. That’s 35 years (minus his four years living in Europe). That’s a long time.
I am excited for so many things: football seasons, fall colors, the ability to drive a couple hours and be in another state (Tennessee is bordered by seven others!), Lady Vols basketball, the proximity to Florida and the Panhandle and butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, weekend trips to see my cousins in Memphis and Birmingham, seeing live music for pennies (or free), and of course, my ongoing quest to becoming best friends with Taylor Swift (stalker that I am, I totally know exactly where her penthouse apartment is located).
It hasn’t been the easiest decision for my pride, silly as that sounds. I’ve always liked being “a Southerner in Holland/Arizona/Scotland/Denmark/New York/California.” I’m frankly terrified to go back to being average, to being “just another Tennessean in Tennessee.” (Yes, my ego will learn to get over it. Now, instead I can be “that girl who’s married to the really cool and handsome California boy with the curly hair who moved across country for her.”)
I never thought I’d move back home, never thought there would be opportunities there for me. But there are. We have opportunities in spades—to build new(/bigger) careers, finally make (and save) some money, hopefully buy a house one day soon—opportunities that would never fall into our lap were we to stay put in California and just continue to coast along as we’ve been doing this last handful of years.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of things we’ll miss here. At the moment, SVV’s amazing family, our wonderful neighbors, all the great friends we’ve made, the proximity to Tahoe and San Francisco’s amazing food culture are the things that come to mind. The thing is: San Francisco isn’t going anywhere, and I’m still going to keep some of my work out here. If nothing else, that will keep me connected to the city, give me an excuse to return regularly.
I suppose the lesson to be learned is that times change, personalities shift, you grow older (and dare I say, wiser), your priorities are not what they were five years ago.
All in all, I’m elated. I haven’t been just an hour away from my parents in a decade. I haven’t been able to meet my mom for lunch—or, more likely, a Broadway musical—without three months’ notice and one of us taking a cross-country plane ride. I haven’t been in the same town with so many of my college and childhood friends since, well, I was in college (or still a child). I’ll be just an hour-and-a-half direct flight from my better half, Lemon, and all my pals (and editors) in New York. IT WON’T TAKE ME A DAY TO GET TO EUROPE ANYMORE. I can fly back to the UK to see friends for a long weekend. There are just so many benefits to moving my base back eastward and so few for us staying in San Francisco.
And we’ll still continue to travel, have no fear. The day I retire my passport—or at least tuck it away in a drawer for much of the year—is the day you truly need to fear for my sanity.
So bust out some bubbly and raise a glass to us, will ya? We could use some all-around good cheer and merriment as we enter this next chapter of our lives!