Tuesday, November 10, 2009

City Jumping

This morning I talked to my cousin, a very recent college grad, about the joys of relocating to a new city. I remember the day I decided to move 1,000 miles out of my comfort zone to the heart of the Midwest. I didn't know a soul in Chicago when I moved there. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I've known people who started life in a certain place, spent the next eighty years there, and died never knowing anything else. My grandmother was like this. She flew out to Chicago for a wedding (her brother's), and flew back to Philly the same day. That day-trip satisfied her for life. She had no regrets. Philadelphia, for 92 years, was her home. How could anyone argue with that?

Most of my family, in fact, followed a similar trajectory of real-life experience. Born and bred in one place, lived there forever, never had a desire to move. I always thought I'd do the same thing. When I went away to college (a traumatic 45 minutes from home!), I came home every weekend for months. Missed my parents, my childhood, my privacy. For two years, I despised living "so far away" from home.

And yet somehow, in the span of two years, I decided to make a move. I took a job in Chicago after graduation, lived there for a year, and came to love a place as foreign to me as the moon. I still love Chicago. I think I'll end up there, if I have my way.

The next city on my list was Boston, another city I'd never really seen, visited, or experienced beyond a few books and movies. I hated Boston at first (lousy first impression, we'll leave it at that), but it grew on me. I became a die-hard Sox fan, explored a healthy chunk of New England, and learned to savor my long underwear. I made wonderful friends, worked a 9 to 5 job, and grew up.

And now, four years after college, I've ended up in San Francisco. My family thinks I'm nuts, by the way. Never in a million years did they think I'd move across the country for med school. But here I am, doing my stint in San Francisco, a city that has somehow become my home in spite of the bizarre California culture. I will never be a Californian, and I'm anxious to return to my roots. California is a weird place. San Francisco is even weirder. But living here is an experience worth having, even if SF and I don't quite click.

Next on the list (and believe me, I've thought about this), is probably New York. Or London. Or maybe somewhere truly off the radar. I haven't decided. I'm just grateful for the opportunity.

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