The waves run toward me, sparkling with the light of the sun.
I stand near Santa Monica’s pier, imbibing the scenery.
Could I live here?
I contemplate this question quietly.
I haven’t successfully moved out of the Bay Area since my arrival here thirteen years ago. At first, the persistent cold and lack of actual seasons made me miss my home state of Texas more than I could ever have imagined.
I arrived in Berkeley knowing nobody. On top of that, I was one of the only young women from my strict Muslim community who was even allowed to move away from home to attend college.
It wasn’t without a fight, but after loads of family drama, my parents acquiesced. I can be very convincing.
That said, I experienced the unrelenting guilt of abandoning my family afterward, even though getting away was by far the healthiest thing I could have done for myself. It wasn’t easy to fight the guilt and continue building my own, autonomous life, but somehow my teenage-self managed.
Even all the way back then, I think I knew I would never settle down again in Texas. It’s not all that bad of a state. There are worse places to call home (*cough* Alabama *cough*).
This is just my opinion by the way.
My family thinks I’m crazy for choosing to live in an apartment with a bedroom the size of my mother’s closet just to be in San Francisco.
I’m not exaggerating.
Before my move into the big city, I lived in the East Bay. That’s where I found myself and lost myself dozens of times. That’s the place where I parented myself into adulthood.
My first meaningful memory of San Francisco takes me back eleven years. My college poetry slam coach gave me last minute instructions to perform at some club near downtown. I was beyond nervous. At twenty, I was still quite shy and just learning how to share my lived experiences.
I made it to the crowded venue, all by myself, and I performed my heart out. I did the best I could.
I walked away with straight ten out of tens that night, but more importantly, a puzzle piece of my identity found its home in the mosaic of my story.
I became a little bit more of a writer.
I had dreamed of living in SF for a long time, but the rising rent and cost of living kept pushing that goal farther into my future until I quit my journey of becoming a doctor and joined the health tech industry.
Finally, I moved into what I guess would be called a “cute” apartment in the Nob Hill area. There wasn’t enough space for a small study (another of my many wishes), so I set up my desk area in the kitchen.
There’s a window to my left that lets in a plethora of sunlight. The problem is the wind that tags along also brings me the delightful aroma from my cat’s litter box.
This is where I do most of my writing.
Though I know what everyone says (what even I say): that it shouldn’t matter where you are in order for you to write, I find that it still does.
Sometimes, the bustle of traffic, the continuous construction, the shrieks of passers-by, and my proximity to the cat’s litter are just too many distractions.
It’s funny- after I got what I wanted, I realized that my wants had shifted.
Now that I’m back from my short vacation to Los Angeles, I feel a growing sense that it’s time to move, to call a new place home.
I don’t take the decision to move lightly. What if I leave and feel so gutted that I come running back? This prompts me to take pause and ask some critical introspective questions:
Okay. If I’m feeling the push toward this tremendous life change, then what do I really need in order to make the most out of it?
A space that’s just mine. It can be small, but it has to belong to me. I need a section of our next home that is my dedicated space to create.
Quiet. Finally, I’m ready to hear the thoughts I’ve been drowning out for most of my life. Now that I have this unbelievable opportunity to process them and understand my internal world through writing, I want as few distractions as possible.
Room to dance, for break time. If I tried to dance in this apartment, I’d end up with bruises and cuts within a matter of minutes. I just accidentally elbowed a container off of the desk, if that helps paint a picture of the crowdedness.
All of these desires are in the service of my one greatest, obsessive goal: I need a place that will cultivate the writer in me. I can’t think of a more important thing these days.
Maybe that’s where I’ll start from. I’ll write, and write, and write, until I pave a path with words that will take me to my next destination.
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