After a little over a year, it’s finally time to move on and say goodbye to San Diego.
I first moved out to the west coast following my cross-country bike trip, the 4K for Cancer. I arrived in San Francisco and drove down Route 1, along the California coastline, to the beautiful beaches of San Diego.
However, the idea of living on the beach and year-round sunshine blinded me from reality. It took me a while longer to settle in than expected. I slept on a friend’s couch for about a month searching for an apartment and a job. I was expecting it to be like life in Philadelphia: a compact, lively city but on the beach. But I was wrong.
After a few weeks, I finally found an apartment and roommate in Hillcrest, the gay neighborhood of San Diego just north of downtown. I got my first job downtown at a boutique bowling alley and sports bar as a cocktail server. I stayed there for the “winter” months, making good friends and decent money. But I wasn’t happy. Admittedly, I moved to San Diego with certain expectations. But it wasn’t clicking. I wasn’t living the care-free, beach lifestyle I thought I would be. For one, I lived in the city 15 minutes from the beach, and without a car, that became a 30 minute bike ride with a monster hill on my return trip home. And my job downtown was just like any other restaurant job I’ve had. For living in San Diego, “America’s finest city,” it felt like any other city.
I took a brief a hiatus and traveled to Central America for five weeks. I returned to San Diego in March and gave it another chance. This time, I moved into my own studio in Crown Point/Pacific Beach, just two blocks from Mission Bay and a scenic ten minute bike ride along the bay to the Pacific Ocean. Not shortly after I moved in, I got a job opening Cannonball, a brand new sushi and Japanese fusion rooftop restaurant in Mission Beach. Within a few weeks, my San Diego experience turned around 180 degrees.
I met great friends while working at Cannonball, many of which were fellow east-coasters! We clicked pretty quickly and hung out a lot outside of work.
My new job at Cannonball, a part of Belmont Park, had great perks. We got free rentals from the local beach shop: rollerblades, beach chairs, paddleboards, surfboards, bikes, and skateboards. We found ourselves taking advantage of the rentals almost daily. Some days we went paddle boarding and rollerblading, other days we just relaxed on the beach. And when that got old (which it never really did), we were exploring what else San Diego had to offer: the many hiking trails, nearby beach towns, and nightlife.
And when I had no plans, I found myself running along the bay and beach, taking in the sunshine, and watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I could, I found a way to watch the sunset; it was always a spectacular sight, varying every single night, and sometimes with a green flash just as the last tip of the sun disappeared over the horizon. Watching the sun slowly descend over the water is such a humbling, simple, and amazing sight. When I think of my time in San Diego, I’ll always remember the incredible sunsets.
Spending the past year in San Diego was amazing. But being a lover of adventure and always needing new scenery, it’s time for me to move on.
Though I lived in San Diego for a little over a year, saying goodbye was incredibly difficult. I fell in love with the city, sunshine, and my new friends. I know I will be back, but I also know it won’t be the same.
“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving…” Elizabeth Gilbert
As I write this, I’m currently back in New York, freezing my butt off, and missing the hell out of the west coast. But I am twelve hours away from boarding a plane on a one-way journey to Bangkok, Thailand and beyond. The only thing that makes saying goodbye bearable is having a hello to look forward to. I love you San Diego, but it’s time for a new adventure.