Before I moved to San Francisco, everyone told me, “Oh you’re going to love it!” But I wasn’t sure. California definitely had an allure to it (with all those visions of beaches and year-round sunshine), but how could everyone assume that I’d like San Francisco? I’d lived on the East Coast nearly my whole life (save for a few years in the Mid-West as a really young girl), and I felt totally at home there. I was pretty Type-A, high-achieving, wound fairly tight. The East Coast was where I belonged, right?
And the things people said about San Francisco made me a little nervous. Things like, “Everyone’s so healthy there.” Ew. That sounded terrifying. I thought I was pretty healthy, but saying an entire city was really healthy made me worry that restaurants would carry nothing but kale chips and kombucha. Would I waste away, I wondered? Would the peer pressure have me hiding cupcakes in my closet? I wouldn’t know until my family and I moved there. And by then would it be too late?
Friends told me that everyone was into outdoor sports, and that I’d need a Patagonia jacket because I’d wear it almost everyday in San Francisco’s fog. Both of these things, too, sounded awful. I didn’t count myself as very outdoorsy, and I didn’t want to start now. And Patagonia jacket? “No, thank you. I have a fashion blog, people! Patagonia is not, and never has been as far as I can tell, in fashion,” I swore to myself. (But then this happened.)
Nonetheless, I left the East Coast with a (mostly) open mind and wondered what lay ahead for me.
It didn’t take long for me to see what people were talking about. Almost as soon as I landed, I felt at home. (What follows are massive generalizations, but I have found them to be true, for me anyway.) The first thing I noticed (other than the huge hills I was certain that my car would not be able to scale– wrongly, thank goodness) was that the drivers in San Francisco were nicer than in any other city I’d previously lived. In a town full of four-way stop signs, people somehow get around without killing each other or even honking their horns much.
If you put your blinker on to change lanes in San Francisco, do you want to know what people do? They slow down to let you in!! Isn’t that crazy? I know that that is the intention of the blinker, and all, but in Boston, you are welcome to put your blinker on and then fight with all of your life to wedge your car between two cars that likely look like they will go to obscene lengths to keep you from getting between them.
There is a more chill vibe in San Francisco (and California generally). People are pretty happy to let each other do what makes them happy. And everyone seems to get in on it. Hence, I’ve noticed a lot of grandma-aged people with brightly (and non-conformistly) dyed hair in shades like purple. I don’t remember seeing much of that on the East Coast, and though I doubt I’ll join them, I’d happily hang with violet haired older ladies any day of the week.
And, yes, people are healthy in California. Having year-round access to organic local fruits and vegetables makes it so much easier to eat healthily (and spoiler alert! It’s delicious too. My fears of the food being completely uninspired and hemp-laden turned out to be unfounded. Instead, even hole in the wall taco joints make food that is so delicious it might bring a tear to your eye.)
And, yes, people are active and like outdoor activities. Good weather year-round also has that effect on people. You actually want to be outside when it’s never 10 degrees and blizzarding or 100 degrees and sweltering. I might complain from time to time that it rarely makes it above 70 degrees in San Francisco, but it also rarely gets below 55, either. Having lived in both Boston and Washington, D.C., that’s a temperature spread I can really get behind.
Because people are so active, it is common to see people wearing workout clothes at all hours of the day. As a mom, in particular, you can get away with wearing yoga clothes just about anywhere in the city (see above re: laid back vibe). And at any time. (Of course, I inadvertently found one of those very few places you shouldn’t wear yoga pants– while wearing yoga pants– but more about that another time).
Though I moved to California without any idea what living here would be like, I now frequently tag Instagram pictures #californialove. In fact, I do this so often that a Tupac Shakur fan page (Tupac famously sang- er, rapped, the song “California Love”), frequently likes my photos. This tickles me. And it’s proof I’m not alone in loving California. I love it so much, I now consider myself a Californian (though it took me nearly four decades to realize it).
Now I know why people said I’d love San Francisco. It’s because it’s hard not to.
Photo via Death to Stock Photo