It’s so hard for me to believe I’ve been in California for two months now. Time sure does fly. I arrived in California just before Thanksgiving. I spent a week or so at my Dad’s before moving into a one bedroom apartment in Walnut Creek. I had visited Walnut Creek a bunch during high school and college because my ex lived close by in Orinda. I really like this whole area and San Francisco is just a quick 20 minute drive West. Some of the prettiest coastal areas of California are within an hours drive. It’s really a great place to call my temporary “home” but I do find myself missing Colorado every single day.
California is different than I remember from the days of growing up as a naive high schooler. It’s been 11 years since I’ve permanently lived in the Northern part of the state and it’s really, really changed. And sorry to say, it hasn’t changed for the better.
To start, there are people everywhere. Everywhere. Every single store, restaurant, park, is packed in the bay area. The roads are always busy. Any time of day or night, whether 9am or 3am. It’s impossible to enjoy a mid-morning trip to Costco or a quiet coffee run to Starbucks. It could be me – I am not used to be surrounding by people all of the time at every single moment always & I absolutely hate it.
People here are incredibly snooty. I have seen more rude women than I can handle for a lifetime. Bay Area-ins. Pshhhhhhh.
It’s rare for a Bay Area hiker to say hello as they pass by you on a trail. Many have headphones on, or music playing aloud from their pack (my pet peeve). In Colorado I first say hi to every single person I pass on a trail unless they beat me to it. Here I have passed way too many people who look down or away. Sorry, not sorry, but this is incredibly irritating and awkward. And what’s even worse? I’ve said hello and gotten just a blank stare in response.
The bay area hiking trails are not dog friendly. At all. I would estimate that 75% of trails or more within two hours of Walnut Creek are not dog friendly. Dogs are actually not allowed on most trails at all – unleashed or leashed. It’s really sad because I have this 70lb lab who needs exercise & I am so accustomed to taking her everywhere that I actually don’t hike alone – ever. Especially not in a place like California…. it’s so much less safe here than in Colorado. (And I can bring my gun in Colorado – definitely can’t do that here unless I want to risk getting in major trouble!)
The cost of everything is sky-high. From my PG&E bill to the whopping almost $2000 a month I pay in rent for a small apartment that doesn’t even come close to comparing to my apartment in Colorado – and yes I realize I chose to live in Walnut Creek, but apartments up the entire 580/680 Corridor were even more. I just happened to stumble on a deal here in Walnut Creek. And it’s certainly not actually a deal, it just is compared to all of my other options at the time I signed the lease.
Nurses in the bay area make an incredible amount of money. If I were to accept a full time position at the hospital I am currently at I would increase my Colorado anual salary by $65,000 a year – base pay. It’s hard for me to fathom what I would do with that kind of money. I know I’d be able to make a huge dent in my student loan debt.
If only money were important enough to me to make me stay here.
The truth is, I signed onto a 13 week contract with a really crappy hospital. They are understaffed, poorly managed & the doctors are crap. I have never appreciated my city hospital in Colorado more & I can’t wait to finish this contract. These past several weeks since beginning my assignment in November have been incredibly difficult both personally & professionally. I have learned a LOT, done a LOT of HARD nursing work & have no doubt improved my skill set and ability to succeed in very high stress working environments – but the stress of the job has definitely made life a little difficult. I have already been let out of my 13 week contract by my recruiter due to the hospital not holding up to their end of bargain (and flat out lying to me during my interview), but I am still working my full-time schedule because the $ is so good that I can’t just walk away.
And also… because I have no idea what to do next. Should I take another travel position here in California at a different hospital? Should I look for a travel position back in Colorado or should I go back to my old job in downtown Denver (which is available for me) or should I pick another place on the map and spend 13 weeks in another new city? It’s been really nice being close to my family & the thought of moving away from them again really tears at my heart. It’s so, so hard to know that if I leave this area, they won’t be an hours drive away. It’s been the best to have my mom and Dad so close by.
And of course, there is the financial aspect of it all. Making money that I am proud of has meant a lot to me. It’s really hard to think about going back to Colorado and taking such a massive pay cut and going back to worrying about my student loan debt and still having extra $ left over to save & have a life. At some point I’d like to buy a condo or house of my own and I know that’s going to be a lot harder to do if I just go back to Colorado now… the pay difference is just absurd.
But….. it’s Colorado. If you haven’t lived there you just won’t be able to understand that Colorado is not just a state. Colorado is a life style. It’s so different from anywhere else I have been or lived – the outdoor lifestyle is real. I miss it so much every day. It’s no surprise that most people who move to Colorado stay in Colorado. And if they leave, they go back. And the natives who leave for a while… they go back, too. It’s a magical place.
Lastly… Andrew. (Who?) I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted & since I’ve mentioned him. But it’s been almost six months since the breakup. And the truth is, it’s been devastating. Sure I was the one who chose to walk away, but that doesn’t mean it’s been any easier. It’s been very difficult for me to pick up the pieces of a broken 6+ year relationship and move on alone. He was my very best friend. It’s unfortunate that we became who we became together (dysfunctional) but it is what it is – and being in California has been the absolute best thing for me in terms of moving on. I needed a breath of fresh air so badly and I needed to get away from everything that was reminding me of him on a daily basis and I certainly needed to get away from that 35 minute drive between us.
And I’m done hoping that we can work it out,
I’m done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around.
I’m done thinking, that you could ever change.
I know my heart will never be the same,
but I’m telling myself I’ll be okay.
Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger.
~Sarah Evans “A Little Bit Stronger”
I keep trying to put my faith in God, that He has someone for me, but if He doesn’t, I have to make the best decisions personally and professionally for MY life as a single 30 year old. My career path obviously plays a big role in the decisions.
So. Here I am. Last week I was certain I’d head back to Colorado as soon as possible. And now I’m looking at the map in my head and wondering what (or where?) is next?