Monday, May 24, 2010
Decision Summer 2010: Calabasas v. San Francisco
Today was the day I decided where I'm going to spend the next year, if not more, of my life.
It was extremely difficult to do and definitely NOT easy. Virtually every night of this week, I've been tossing and turning with a list of pros and cons running nonstop in my head and the cable cars creaking outside with some random guy constantly shouting, "Yo, where's my cell phone?" paired with a very uncomfortable mattress...ugh.
If you guys have been following this tale, basically when I graduated from college, I threw my life into 5 suitcases and headed to SF, with the promise of only 2 job interviews guiding my way. As always, I believed that I would get one of these two, and for some reason, my head always envisions things to involve people grinning at me, doors opening in terms of both employment and residential space, and being able to run around everywhere dressed nicely and getting an arsenal of compliments as well as attractive young men to run up to me and ask who this young woman was who was poised to take on the world.
Maybe not in this city, at least.
I consulted a large group of friends regarding what to do. I also spoke to my parents (we're getting along again, slowly). But it was a phone call to my former professor Don that really changed everything for me. Once he gave me sound advice, I knew what to do. He's kind of one of my big heroes :)
The movie 500 Days of Summer's sequence with Expectations/Reality is the perfect example of how NONE of my expectations met my reality in SF.
Expectation: Landing that perfect job.
Reality: Job #1 did not choose me. This was Lush and I must say, I'm rather grateful for it. Retail and I would not get along. I paid my dues of 4 years in the sandwich artist/barista business and those 4 years I actually wound up really loving because I was in high school and met some of my best friends there. However, as a college graduate, it would do me no good to go back to working for minimum wage. Lush bothered me because the entire staff was very nice in the artificial sense. Fake enthusiasm and too much pep to sell ocean salt hand scrub. I've become a much more optimistic and cheerful person over the years, but let me stress that it does take years and a good environment with great people to change a person and their mindset. The moment I walked into Lush, I felt my happiness literally tumble down and my old pessimistic persona rolling her eyes and huffing was back. This did not bode well when as part of my interview, I had to give one of the employees a hand treatment with cuticle cleanser, salt scrub, and hand lotion. You could tell I just wasn't into it. I was nervous on how they would judge me, sleep-deprived, trying to be upbeat without being in your face about it, but almost to the verge of taking the bath bombs and shouting, "They're just bubbles people! And how many of you really want a bathtub filled with confetti when you're trying to scrub the day off?" while laughing manically and hurling the bath bombs into the street.
I can't help it if my first response to these sort of issues is to be sarcastic and get a mocking attitude about it, but if you look at my family and the years I spent working at Subway you'd get it. Good lord, the stories from Subway alone could be in a book. Now that was a coming-of-age tale!
As for Job #2, more details coming...
Expectation: The perfect apartment is perfectly affordable and comes with all utilities.
Reality: If you want to live somewhere relatively safe and close to your job, get ready to spend anywhere from $1100 on up. A month if you choose to live solo. Which, in most of these super small living spaces, is all the room there is. This doesn't include all of your utilities either. Some places pay for all of them, but most don't. And cable/DSL/phone line. Those don't count either. And let's not forget the deposit, 1 and a half times the initial rent. Bye bye savings!
Expectation: In SoCal, I dressed the way I liked, wore heels and red lipstick everywhere and got compliments from girls and eyeballs from cute guys.
Reality: In SF, climbing the hills in heels hurts. The only eyeballs I got from my outfits were from homeless guys. No. Thank you. My beloved red lipstick sat unused in my purse because I felt, oh man I hate writing this, I felt like why bother? It would get the wrong attention anyway. I think this is one of the more horrific paragraphs I had to write because I really believe in dressing up and looking special. What has become of Heather Taylor, the former writer behind The Fashion Plate, when she feels like not wearing her red lipstick?! The sky is falling.
Expectation: Despite everything, you will stick it out. You are strong and brave and will make lots of new friends and see the old ones once or so a year and tell them stories of how fabulous life is and they will see this life surrounding you in your pretty home, with your great job and new pals and that Golden Gate Bridge in the distance winking down on you...
Reality: I was very lonely. Lonely to the point where it hurt. And it was only 2 weeks.
On Sunday, I began to analyze my life again. I got my professor Don's number from one of my friends and called him, close to tears, worrying about my future. He only had half an hour to talk before he left the country (talk about good timing) and started off by asking me where I saw myself in 5 years? Was it in SF or Calabasas?
"Uh, neither?" I chirped back and he laughed, "Oh boy."
"What?" I asked, confused.
"Well, it would be easier if you chose one of the two because then I could direct you to one of them." Don said, "But you didn't, so..."
We talked about the job prospect in SF that was currently troubling my head. The one with the 3 months of interning without pay that would lead into full-time. Don did not like it at all and sternly advised me not to take the job without getting in writing that I would be full-time employed afterward. His argument was that I was a college grad and did not need another internship because I had all of the classes I needed and had done the experience already necessary.
I agreed the more we talked and vowed that next morning to discuss it with the woman in charge of the internship.
In the meantime, I decided that if she said yes, that they could pay me and I would go directly into full-time, I would stay in SF. If they couldn't, then I would move directly back to Calabasas to live with my girlfriends in their rad apartment and work out there.
I ran the 20 minute walk to the view of the Golden Gate Bridge where I looked at this bridge and stared at it, wishing, hoping, needing a sign. I needed to see this bridge as not a bridge, but my future. My place in the world.
This is what happened the next morning (today):
I woke up from dreaming of being with my friends and laughing to being alone.
I went to the internship and talked it over with the boss. She was nice.
But she said no.
The Golden Gate Bridge remained a bridge and not a sign.
I went back to the hotel and wondered what came next.
I got the call from a job in LA that wanted me to come in for an interview.
A job I really want.
I called my parents.
And my friend Sara.
And texted lots of friends to tell them...
...I'm moving to Calabasas!
Oh SF, you'll always be there. But Calabasas and SoCal miss me and I need them back in my life in order to be myself again.
Back to the palm trees, the hot sun, the Vons and Ralphs and Whole Foods and Golden Spoon and Bank of America (well, my bank has a cute teller so that's why I'm referring to it here). Back to the 101 and the 405 and 23 freeways. Back to my old diet of Ramen noodles and Vault soda (holy crap, do I miss Vault). Back to Mad Men and True Blood Sundays. Back to the many, many cute boys I left behind. Back to my best friends. Back to my network of people I love and miss. Back to Hollywood and TO and Simi Valley and Camarillo and Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. Back to the flowers and gardens and pools and that little happy feeling in my tummy I get when it's dusk out?
Oh that feeling.
Back to home.
See ya this Thursday.
Love to you all,