OK, so we've lived near San Francisco for nearly 4 years, and I'm just now starting to get to know my way around the city. Because we don't live IN the City, and because we have kids and jobs, etc. and that means the bulk of our lives happen down here on the Peninsula.
I have lived in many places. Grew up just outside of Boston. At 18, I took off to the Big Apple for college. Because I was a theater major, most of my classes were held off campus, in the actual Theater District in Midtown Manhattan. So I got to know the public transit system very well. I also spent weekends walking through the city, which, IMHO, is the BEST way to get to know a place. OK, cycling is great too, but no way in Hades was I gonna ride a bike in Manhattan. I have too strong a survival instinct, lol! (I think I've mentioned that I drove ONCE in Manhattan, for about 6 blocks. The six scariest blocks EVER!!!!!)
From there I spent a summer in the UK, going from London (perhaps the best walking city in the world) to Oxford to Edinburgh (another great walking city), and learned my way around. Then it was off to Western Massachusetts. Beautiful scenery and nice walking, but hard to get from pace to place without a car (which I eventually got).
From there it was a HUGE change of pace, to San Diego. I was living and going to grad school in La Jolla (I know, poor me, cue violins) and, unfortunately, didn't have much time to really explore the rest of the city. But then I met my husband, who knows it well. He not only took me all over the city, but we drove east to Julian and Anza Borrego, and north to San Fransisco (my first time), as well as Carmel, Tahoe, Yosemite, Monterey, Big Sur, San Simian to see Hearst Castle, and on and on. (He even drove me to L.A. one night to go have dinner, driving home afterward.) Up until then, I was fully planning to return to the east coast upon graduation. After that summer, I knew California was home.
When we first moved to L.A. in the spring of '97, it was with great excitement and optimism. Hubby got a job right away.
But it was only 6 weeks. In the meantime, I was performing in one show in Culver City, rehearsing another (to be performed at the La Brea Tar Pits), working days at a summer theater camp in Topanga, and, in the evenings, training for a teaching job in East L.A. Suffice to say, I got to know L.A. and its environs REALLY well, really quickly.
When I think of L.A. I tend to think of the last few years, when things were difficult. I forget the first few years, which were actually quite heady and fun and definitely a learning experience. Our first apartment was very nice, with hardwood floors and lots of space, as well as a lovely landlord who didn't mind our gigantic furry dog. It was in the Valley, and it was HOT! The building was quite old, so there was no A.C. and the pipes kept bursting. But the neighbors were mellow and there was a park right across the street where people let their dogs go off-leash.
Oh, and the drug dealers left us alone.
In '98 we bought a condo in Los Feliz, a GREAT neighborhood! Our first night there, we walked down the street to get some Indian food to go. While waiting, we ambled over to a nearby bookstore. Tim Curry was inside, doing a reading of "A Wrinkle in Time." (One of my favorite actors reading one of my favorite books; how cool!) On the way home a small kitten followed us for a bit. I thought this all bade well.
And it did, for the most part.
We moved 2 more times before leaving L.A. By then the kids had come along, and we needed to change our lives a bit. So here we are.
The kids were 5 and not-quite-3 when we moved here, so you can imagine that our days were busy. Hubby was working full time with his dad, so I was with the kids all day. Eventually LG started school and WG strated in-home therapy, so I had a bit more time.
Nowadays, the kids are in school a full day. I work, but only part time. And because the kids are older, we can take them to the city more often. Or, Sometimes, Hubby and I can go on our own. He, of course, knows the city very well, having grown up here. But I am in discovery mode, and it is quite exciting!
I just finished reading a book called "Secondhand Spirits" (the second in a series) about a Texan witch who lives in the Haight, owns a vintage clothing store, and solves otherworldly mysteries. The author mentions a bunch of landmarks and businesses in her books, and all of them are real. Tomorrow I'm planning on checking a couple of them out. Coco Luxe (handmade chocolates, mochas, and marshmallows!) and Coffee to the People, to be exact. With, perhaps, stops at Booksmith (the new Meg Cabot novel comes out tomorrow) and Amoeba Records.
A recent study came out stating that San Francisco has the happiest people in the country. And I believe it! And I DON'T believe it's due to the, um, higher-than-average levels of controlled substances. There are MANY of us here who don't indulge, and we're quite content! Personally, I think living in such a beautiful place with clean air, the ocean, the Bay, tons of parks, plenty of family and dog-friendly areas, and mild weather will do that to ya. Plus, it's a short hop the the mountains, the Redwoods, and all sorts of gorgeous, fun destinations. I knew, during my first visit back in in 1995, that this was the place I wanted to call home. It took 11 years, but we finally made it.
And now I'm gonna enjoy it!!!!!!.