November 29th, 2003

pilchuck, glass

Reality Check

[Cross-posted from my MovableType Blog]

I had a job interview last Friday, in my old stomping ground (Mountain View). It's a position I'm really excited about. But I was more than a little concerned about this impromptu homecoming, however brief.

Recently I've found myself idealizing the time that I spent there. I re-read Tales of the City, I've spent a lot of time talking to friends in the area (that I called home). I've been thinking about what would happen if I got this job.

I was worried that I'd have so much fun with this visit, that I'd feel so good being back that I'd have a crisis of self/identity/whatever and decide that I had to get back there any way I could.

I had a very visceral reaction to being back, but not the one I expected. I hated being there. It felt like a huge step backward into the rut that I climbed out of when I left. I had a great time seeing people, and I miss them again now that I'm gone, but I realized that have no stomach left for the suburban sprawl of the Peninsula. I couldn't afford to go back where I'd been.

It is still home. And I still very much want this job to work out, but I need to live in an urban environment. I need to have people around. I need to be able to WALK to see people/go out. I need culture. I need to be more than the drone I'd become living in Suburban Hell. So once again I find myself planning to live in San Francisco.

There were a few very surprising side-effects to this trip. I realized that I'm more at home in Chicago than I believed. I'd been in denial for some time. I kept telling myself that the Bay Area was home, and my only home. I now realize how silly that uncharacteristically singular view was. Adopting a more familiar continuum view, I can accept that Chicago is home right now without betraying my feeling that I will go back to the Bay Area.

The other side-effect was that once I realized that Chicago is also home, I realized that I'm not as miserable here as I'd been leading myself to believe (if that makes any sense at all). Life here is not without it's issues (drama-queen tendencies aside) but the time has come to take an active role in living it.