So, I did it. I made my dreams come true at age 23. My dream city became my real life city. And I moved from Coast to Coast. I should have resurrected this once purely designed to showcase a few pieces of my college writing blog months ago and morphed it into about my transition to San Diego all along. But I was too busy getting nice with my this long-awaited love affair and unravelling new places and friendships in my new stomping grounds. This blog’s tone will change to light and airy for all to see and read. I’ve documented my social trial and errors through a series of emails to my girlfriends
and closest guy friends at home, but this should be appropriate for all walks of life (yes, you Mom!). Just kidding mom, I love you and all my familia..
Anyway, for a brief summary of my pre San Diego life, I’ll refresh or enlighten you. I graduated in May 2009 from the University of Maryland (Go Terps!). I worked in DC for nearly a year at the washingtonpost.com and then a small event planning company until I was laid off last Spring. I had a great year living with one of my college best friends and two of her other good friends that I came to grow and love as
and also expanded my social circle to more lifelong best friends and guy friends. That first year out of our college was AN AMAZING Alum year, a transition year, a year of self exploration and declaration. Despite being stressed at one job and then unemployed, that year of freedom and rebirth was my favorite year of life and I did so many things I wouldn’t have done and so long-term friendships were built that I would not have made if I had not been in DC, single, eventually unemployed, and so willing to do everything and anything because I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I remember that my girlfriends had me so socially staked from Labor Day Weekend 2010 through April 2011-no joke. Every weekend night we had weekends plans either local or out of town we knew about in advance. It is a busy social structure and it was the perfect remedy I needed at that time.
However, all good things have to come to an end. I eventually realized I was spinning my wheels in mud in Maryland in a few ways-Confusing my mind with the old boyfriend, drinking in the same saloons every weekend, going on weekend getaways and blowing my unemployed (funemployment?) bank account, parents micromanaging my job applications. I needed something drastic, a challenge that would snap me into adulthood and into the real, real world. Something that would help me grow in more ways than one.
Fairly new to single life and being unemployed was a blessing in disguise I realized in retrospect. When one door closes, another one opens is very true. In one of my favorite movies despite being unbearably gory at times, Fight Club, Tyler Durden said, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we are free to do anything.” I kept hearing those sentences from my subconscious and from my mental repertoire of great movie quotes, so it really resonated. The world was my oyster and I wanted to be at the beach.
In July, 2004 the greatest parents to walk this Earth and I visited some distant family in San Diego to just do something different from our usual Myrtle Beach vacation. I told them while getting dressed in our downtown San Diego Gaslamp District hotel room, “Now Mom and Dad, I’ve seen a lot of great cities, but once I graduate from college, I will live in San Diego sometime in my 20s.” “Oh ya Jess? Ok, just get your diploma and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. ” Four years later, after I graduated from college, I treated myself to another San Diego adventure
with my graduation money and that trip reaffirmed my heartfelt admiration for Southern California.
So, I was applying and interviewing for jobs in Virgina, DC, MD, Baltimore, NYC, Long Island, Chicago and San Diego. But all along, I knew I was so over DC…Too political, too expensive, and so the last 5 years of my life with 6 internships and my social life. Cough! – need something different. Chicago, despite being prettier and better than NYC in all ways other than social life, would have been too cold and too much of a challenge since I didn’t have as many vertebrae and bearing in the Windy City (but oh, how I love that city’s aesthetics). Baltimore, I really wanted if I were to stay east coast, but didn’t have as many contacts. (Sidenote: Though I do want Baltimore when I return to my great state. ) God Bless Federal Hill. Some of my fondest memories occurred in that stellar part of Baltimore.
Anyway, I eventually realized when I was interviewing that I really wouldn’t be happy unless I got a San Diego job. I just kept thinking I would hate to be rocking in the chair at the nursing home and some bright-eyed, young visiting granddaughter come popping in to see her grandmother and talk about how great life is in California and crotchety old me would blow out a puff of Virgina Slim smoke and say, “I always wanted to live in San Diego, but just never did it.” Inhale more from that 3 inch stick.
Now, I have always been a doer, but a safer doer. The minute I started saying I was looking to move to San Diego, the minute the seed was planted in my hippocampus and the covert pressure I put on myself to get a job out here made it all the more motivating because a lot of people can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? I wanted to walk the walk and was embarrassed enough of being a confident, competent recent grad with a résumé teeming with impressive things who was laid off and still unemployed months later, so to say I want California and never do it, would have been more humiliating and I guess I always worked well under pressure with a deadline whether self constructed or real.
So I emailed the UMD Alum Association and told them this is my experience and these are the fields I am trying to break into, etc. They gave me some leads and one of them was the San Diego Terps Facebook group. I wrote member a personalized message and I received resounding responses back saying kudos for the Terp to Terp connection and we will definitely forward it around and keep our ears open. After a few months and a few relationships built up, the wheels were turning out of my Maryland mud. Jimbo, my Silver Fox padre, after hearing me talk about San Diego for years and in serious terms for months, finally said if I lined up 4 interviews, he would pay for my airfare. I lined up 4 interviews and 3 coffee dates and boarded a September flight for $230 round trip for 10 days after I nailed down my final and necessary for free flight, 4th interview.
I got an offer with a University here and saw the promise in receiving my MBA for free (have to pay taxes on it though) and accepted it early October. I’ll blog more about this later (road trip, the first few months, meeting friends and celebrity runs ins), but I moved in late October and here I am. I talked the talk and walked the walk 3,000 miles away from home and into Southern California, 20 minutes from the border where the sunshine performs a sunset dance everyday that never gets old.
I miss my friends and family terribly of course, but never got homesick where I think I need to drop everything and come home. I am first and foremost, a family man, I always say. And I am a best friend to a lot of great girls and a good girl space friend to a lot of rad bros at home, but they are all good enough friends that we are able to maintain our friendships despite the 3 hour time difference and 3,000 mile separation. I love my San Diego life and want to kick out my MBA, but the greatest things in life are free. For 2, 3, 4 years, I will fly home 3 or 4 times a year for a few weeks and Skype weekly in the mean time while hosting a slew of visitors.
But, I had to do this for my myself and I am eternally grateful that I was able to follow through with a promise my bright-eyed, California dreaming, 17-year-old self made. I am poor with gas prices $4.15 a gallon, tax at nearly 9 percent and now driving a gas guzzling SUV like a Californian stereotype, but I am as happy a clam because the world is my oyster, and I am very much in a sick love affair with a whale’s vagina
. Darius Rucker sums up my feelings to a tee: For every stoplight I didn’t make Every chance I did or I didn’t take All the nights I went too far All the girls that broke my heart All the doors that I had to close All the things I knew but I didn’t know Thank God for all I missed Cause it led me here to this.” I wouldn’t change a thing about what I have lost and gained the last two years of my life.
Every morning I turn off my smart phone alarm clock, it still feel like I am living in a long-term sabbatical because my dream city is my still surprisingly, my now reality city. And I am forever grateful.