I’ve lived in three cities — my hometown (Fremont) for 18 years, San Luis Obispo for 6-ish (with that study abroad break in the middle), and now San Diego (4 years and counting).
I spent most of those 18 years in Fremont thinking it was the most boring, lamest city, like, ever. The problem with Fremont is it was formed when 5 smaller communities merged together in the 50s, so it’s just this ridiculously big, sprawling suburb. There’s not a real “downtown” or any sort of shopping/nightlife/entertainment district, it’s not walkable in the slightest, local shops and restaurants are few and far between (I’m still mourning the best place for burritos that closed when I was in college), and it’s so spread out and diverse that it lacks any unifying character.
But I love the Central Park soccer complex where I played literally hundreds of soccer games. I love driving down the road that offers views of the entire South Bay. I love the little donut shop where we’d get breakfast every Saturday morning (if that place ever closes, I’ll probably shank someone. Kidding. Kinda). I love, in a bizarre way, the road the cross country team used for hill workouts every Monday during the season. I love the giant cement tunnels diverting the creek that we used to (be not allowed to) run through as a shortcut back to school after practice.
In San Luis Obispo? God, I went to Cal Poly in large part because I fell in love with that town. I love the courtyard by the English building where I used to catch up on reading before class. I love the top of Bishop’s Peak and Cuesta Ridge. I love the stretch of 101 where you get your first glimpse of the ocean as you approach Shell Beach. I love the creekside dining of Vieni Vai. I love the northeast corner of the fourth floor of the campus library where I wrote most of my papers. I love the Mission plaza. I love the backroads that take you from SLO to Avila or Pismo.
San Diego. There are spots in the city that are pretty awesome — Sunset Cliffs, Balboa Park, Mission Beach, Mission Gorge. But, even after four years here, I don’t feel that same connection to any particular place. Maybe because the city is just so big and there’s so many people? Maybe because I haven’t really found “my” community yet?
My experience here has been fundamentally different than in Fremont or SLO. I didn’t get to choose to live in Fremont, but I always knew I wouldn’t stay there after graduating high school. I chose SLO, but I knew I wouldn’t stay there permanently. I chose San Diego to be with Husband after he got a job here. And…I don’t know. We love living here, but don’t talk about staying here forever. But we don’t know when we’ll leave or where we’ll go, if we do. So maybe I don’t know if I should treat this city like just another place I’ll leave one day, or a place where I have all the time in the world to discover it and make it my own.