My mind has been spinning endlessly over the last week or so.  Perhaps by choice I’ve bottled up these emotions I’ve had because I’m still trying to come to terms with a decision I’ve made.

I had been debating with posting this (and can’t believe I am), but I think it will help clear my head. 

My wife and I moved to San Francisco in about 6 years ago, immediately sold one of our two cars, and without hesitation grew to love the single car, urban lifestyle of the City by The Bay.  We walked and used public transportation all over the place, while discovering the City’s eclectic neighborhoods, restaurants, and treasures.  I grew to become very initimately familiar with all corners of the City, and people would tell me that I would make a great tour guide.  The City truly became part of me, as when people made comments (good and bad) about the City, I would take them personally. 

We both grew up on quiet suburban streets about 35 minutes outside of San Francisco, and as our love for the City matured, the idea of raising our future family within the urban, cultural playground seemed very appealing.

I never really talked about it much, but I became extraordinarily obssessive of making this dream happen.  Like other urban centers, San Francisco is a haven for young adults who often sprawl to greener pastures after they get married and start a family.   But despite this, the more urban families I met, the more realistic it seemed to raise our kids here.  I was okay with the fact that we’d have to sacrifice living in a smaller house that was more expensive and in a chillier microclimate (specifically in the part of town we were considering) than regions outside of San Francisco.  But conversely, there is something incredible to be said about having a commute under 30 minutes (which nowhere I’d want to live has), access to world-class dining, and being near endless attractions such as the Zoo, Golden Gate Park, the Ferry Building, theatres, etc.  Sure, suburbanites can always visit the City, but I know that when your life gets busy with soccer games and birthday parties, it’s difficult.

The biggest monkey on my back was the question I would get from people after telling them that we wanted stay in the City.   “What about the public schools?” they would ask.  After six years of living here, I did an embarassing amount of reseach on the topic.  Admittedly, I often wasn’t really thinking “I want my kids to have a good education”, but instead, “I don’t have to leave town” .  After endless efforts of talking to people, reading articles, blogs, and checking out school profiles, I learned two things.  First, San Francisco Unified School District is doing some very innovative things, and even though test scores shouldn’t be the be-all end-all way to judge, the District’s high scores are considered among the top in the country for urban areas.  Second, I found that a ridiculous amount of people are drastically misinformed how great of a District we have.  Most of the people who say negative things don’t have kids in the public schools, overheard things at the playground, and / or haven’t done the research themselves.  Over the past decade or so many people left the City or went to private schools because of the complicated and uncertain assignment process, but starting this year the new neighborhood assignment system will be in place, which should be much more favorable to many families.

So to summarize, the three biggest factors that generally are the reason for San Francisco exodus – sunshine, square footage, and schools – were generally “non-issues” for me.  As for my wife, she made it clear that she could be happy inside or outside of San Francisco. 

Strangely, practically overnight, several thoughts started to hit me very hard.  I started to think that perhaps I should think  more about my family (boy #1 is three, the other on the way), and less about myself.  Deep down, though my wife said that she could be perfectly happy in San Francisco, I knew that she would live a happier life in the East Bay, closer to our families (she’ll do less schlepping!).  I remembered how growing up my brother and I enjoyed running through the sprinklers and riding our bikes through the neighborhood.  The suburbs will always be boring compared to City life, but they are probably an easier place to grow up. 

I also feel like if we got settled in a house in San Francisco, I would constantly feel on edge that my wife and I may at some point realize we made the wrong decision.  Despite the fact that the notion to move away kills a longtime dream I’ve had, I feel like I’m now comforted by the fact that we will not be living in uncertainty. 

…so, when are we moving?  Well, our baby is due at the end of August, so we’ll most certainly lay low for a while and stay put.  The place we live now has a fair amount of space – we’re not in a huge rush.  My guess is we’re about a year away from being serious. 

…and where will we be looking?  Our top choice right now is Lafayette, which is between Berkeley and Walnut Creek, on the BART line.  Location-wise, it’s about 20-30 minutes to both sets of parents, 15 minutes to my grandparents house, and about 30 minutes to the City. 

What will I miss most?  I’ll miss running along Crissy Field on a day with all the boats out starting at the bold, International Orange paint (bet you didn’t know that was the official color) of the world’s most beautiful bridge.

I know I’m going to miss some of the pizza places such as Tony’s, Pauline’s, Paxti’s, Little Star, and Pizzeria Delfina.

Driving through town in the midst of all of the historic architecture, including the “they-don’t-build-’em-like-that-anymore” Victorian homes will be something I’ll truly miss.

…But come to think of it, I can’t narrow down what I’ll really miss most – there is so much.  All in all, I just have been so proud to be a San Franciscan.  It’s a wonderful city.

Hey, at least I still get to work here everyday…

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