Leaving a piece of my heart in S.F.

February 2012, my 1st trip to San Francisco.

February 2012, my 1st trip to San Francisco.

“San Francisco has only one drawback- ’tis hard to leave.” Rudyard Kipling

How do I begin to say Adios to SF? I knew this day was coming, time to pack our stuff and leave. I’ve been preparing for this goodbye. There’s just no other city like it in the world. It’s a one of the kind original. Every hill has a story. Every peak has a view. Even through the fog it was enough to make me feel like I was transported to another land, another time. Lombard St. North Beach. Fisherman’s Wharf. The majestic Golden Gate Bridge. The Embarcadero. The Ferry Building. Pier 39. The fog horns in the middle of the night. The sound of trolleys passing by. I can go on and on. You’d think I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s been the sweetest 2.5yrs spent in The city by the Bay.

Many writers, artist, athletes, musicians, and politicians have tried to describe what makes this 7×7 city so special. What makes it so special to me? It’s where my husband and I started our lives together. It’s where we reconnected and fell in love. It’s where we spent football Sunday’s at The Red Jack Saloon, after leaving mass at St Peter and Paul’s. Football in California starts at 10a.m. We could spend all day Sunday with our friends at the pub. It’s where my husband got on one knee, and proposed, after brunch at The Cliff House, during a hike overlooking the ocean. It’s where we said our first “I Do’s”, when we married in San Francisco City Hall. It’s where we’ve laughed and cried together. It’s where we’ve spent countless lazy Saturdays on the couch. It’s where we could wake up, and drive to Sonoma or Napa for a day of wine tasting. We could take weekend trips and drive down the coast of California on Highway 1, which is absolutely breathtaking, and land up in Monterey. We could drive to L.A. and sit in traffic for hours all to get to Disneyland.

We’re both Midwesterners, born and raised. I never in my life dreamt of living in California. The 1st week, I arrived, I was walking through our neighborhood, North Beach. I was at a stoplight. To my left was a very tall, thin, skinny jean with black leather jacket and a true Mohawk wearing man. To my right was a total hipster girl with disheveled hair. Next to the hipster woman, was an old Chinese lady with her little cart. Then, there was me, in the middle of all of them. I remember thinking to myself, this place has something for everyone. Everyone fits in here. There are very few cities with such diversity as part of its culture. Not only is it part of its culture, it’s embraced here, it’s celebrated here. No wonder it was all about free love in the 60’s and the first city to openly accept gays. Everyone is accepted in this city, regardless of ethnicity or sexuality. I’ve found people here are way less judgmental of other people’s lifestyles. Everyone really has a live and let live mentality. You smoke pot? So what? No one cares and no one judges here. It’s very common to walk down the street and see people smoking pot. You can always tell the tourist because they are quick to say, “Do you smell that?” Those who live here, it’s quite normal, it smells like S.F.

Although, if you ask my mom, she’ll say it smells like Chinese food. That’s because we lived near a Chinese retirement community center. Everyday, she walked by it, she would smell all the different flavors and aromas coming from the Chinese center. I’ve never lived amongst so many Chinese people. I think outside of China, San Francisco, has the largest Chinese population. I hadn’t noticed how accustomed I became to seeing and living besides Chinese people, until I went back home to the Midwest, and I didn’t see any Asians. No-one was in the park doing tai chi, like I would always see in Washington Square Park by our house.

I think, I’ll miss San Francisco most because, it opened my eyes and heart to the great unknown. It’s been quite an adventure for my husband and I. When all we’ve had was one another to rely on and love. There’s something magical in that, being in a far away city, only with the one I love, far from our family and closest friends. All we have is each other to share everything good and not so good with. For 2.5 yrs, it’s been all about us, no outside influences, building our foundation for a strong future. As we start to dream about what adventures living in Houston will bring, I know we’ll continue to grow together in a new city. I’ll forever be grateful to this beautiful city for all the memories and lessons it’s taught me. Onto the next great adventure for Team JP!

So… what do you do all day?

Is the typical question I get asked, after I tell someone I don’t have a “job”. “Job”, as in, I don’t have a boss to answer to. I don’t have an office space to claim. I don’t have emails to respond to or voicemails to check. I don’t have meetings to schedule throughout my day. I don’t have a W4 form to fill out. It’s been over 2yrs since I can claim taxes, and, say this is who I am (insert job title here) when someone asks, “what do you do for a living?”
Next question is usually, “Don’t you get bored doing nothing all day?” Answer: I don’t do nothing all day. No, I’m never bored. “Don’t you get lonely?” Nope.
I realize people have questions. I don’t mind answering. I don’t have children to raise. I’m not researching the cure to any diseases. I’m not volunteering for a noble cause.
So, what do I do all day? Who am I without the job title?
Most people work to live. A lot of people have jobs and careers they can’t wait to talk about when they meet a new person. It let’s them know they must be important, right? Even if this is not you or me, we all know at least one person whose identity is one with his/her job title. I was one of those people. I was whole heartedly committed to my career. As I believed I should’ve been. I loved working for a living. I’ve always been an independent, goal oriented, addicted to busy kind of woman. I was also overworked and underpaid. That didn’t matter because I loved to work. I was a proud Latina workhorse, pushing someone else’s agenda always for better results/numbers/profit.
Then, it all changed. How?
I found myself in a long distance relationship. A new me was awakened. A part of me I knew existed, was laying dormant until he came crashing back into my life. He opened a place in my heart that was closed to everyone else. He brought new purpose to my everyday living. When love hits, you’re no longer in control. I tried to control it, but failed. Our energy started to consume my every thought and day. My days started to become a countdown to when we could see one another, again. 1 month, 2 weeks, 1 day… my life became the waiting game till next time. I would cry with every airport kiss goodbye. I would return home heartbroken and empty without him. Yep, I’d fallen dangerously in love.
Home is where the heart is. Fact. It became painfully clear my heart was across the country living in San Francisco. What’s a girl to do? Follow her heart. That meant I left behind everything familiar.
I thought the world would come to an end if I ever left my family. It didn’t. I thought my family would disown me. They didn’t. I thought my family wouldn’t understand. They did. After all, I was 30yrs old, not 20 running off with my 1st love. With nothing but my open heart on my sleeve, I made a leap of faith and moved to California. It turned out to be the best decision of my life.
I looked for work, I did. I didn’t plan on becoming a “stay at home girlfriend/fiancĂ©/wife”. It just kind of happened. Our 1st two years of our relationship took us on numerous adventures throughout the world together. My love told me, “you must be willing to travel the world with me”, when we started dating. He really meant it, and it didn’t make sense for me to start a new job when we were always traveling. I have never depended on any man outside of my father in my life. However, my boyfriend (now husband) offered me an opportunity of a lifetime. He never said, “I don’t want you to work.” He has always stated, “I want you to be happy, whatever that means I support you. That means I don’t want you to worry about having to work to pay the bills, we’re o.k. I got us.” We’ve had this conversation more than once. It always reminds me of how loving and supportive he is of me pursuing my dreams. I’ve been gifted the opportunity to discover who I am and who I want to be going forward. It took time. It took patience. It took prayer. It took the courage to start writing, again.
So, what do I do all day?
I write. Plus, a bunch of other super important stuff, like talk to my mama, and mi prima hermana Cheryl. I enjoy my morning tea. I make some pretty yummy dinners. I clean, kind of, sort of, the basics, ya know. I read. I dance. I laugh, a lot. I workout. I take walks. I write poems. Maybe, I’ll share those, one day. Maybe, not. That’s a whole other step of courage. I’ve learned the most courageous thing is to be able to accept love, give love, and be open to the journey wherever it may lead. Everyone is on a different journey, this one happens to be mine right now.
So, what do I do all day? I’m living La Vida Sunshine.