2 years in California | One To Nothin'

2 years in California

April 19 marked two years since I arrived in California for the first time. You can read all about my road trip with my sister here and here. You can also read about the excitement building up to the big move, the adventures and despair of job and apartment hunting and maybe you even noticed periods where I wrote more somber, lonely, fed up, on-the-brink-of-giving-up posts. Maybe you’ve stuck with me ever since my Florida days and already know all about it (if so, know I’m so grateful to have you here even if you’ve never commented). This one’s more for those who don’t already know.

It hasn’t always been exciting, friend-filled weekends traipsing about wine country and hiking giant mountains. When I first got here, I had exactly two friends and both of them lived in San Francisco. I often refer to that city as my home, but actually it isn’t and it never has been. When my sister and I finally reached our destination, it was Pleasanton, CA, which is exactly what it sounds like: the suburbs, and it’s about an hour (on a good, traffic-free day) from the City. My distant cousin, Paul (who I'd only met once), was nice enough to let me stay with him while I tried to figure my shit out. Ziggy and I lived with him and his raucous bulldog for three months while I babysat and miraculously landed a copywriting job through this random Care.com gig. I was beside myself with excitement.

I immediately signed a lease in Livermore (even farther from the City) with an awesome, motivated and driven roommate, but she was gone 88% of the time. I spent about seven months writing about beauty and coming home to Ziggy alone every night. I learned about fluffy brushes and the millions of ways to draw in your eyebrows. I tested countless skincare products (and broke out constantly as a result). I learned a lot about makeup, beauty bloggers, photography and photo editing, but I only made one friend at work and I never felt at ease there. Nothing I did seemed to amount to anything. I liked creating content (obvs), but I didn’t know how to make people read or care. It never felt like a happy place. If I’m being honest, it felt like a middle school cafeteria full of manipulation, Mean Girl tactics and zero happiness for others’ accomplishments.

Plenty of people hate their jobs, so I pushed the feelings down (except when I cried to my mom on the phone every other day… thanks for listening, mom), but it took a toll and eventually I was laid off anyway since the site wasn't making money. I panicked, but I was also relieved. I was offered a strictly-regurgitating-news-articles-type position instead, but I GTFO instead of accepting a title change (side note: there were plenty of incredible people at this company, including my actual boss, but I didn't work with any of them directly).

At this point I was completely losing my shit. I had over $1,000 a month in rent to pay, a sausage dog depending on me for food, about seven more months of a lease to ride out, no job and I sat listening to the hold music for hours while trying to get a through to the unemployment offices. Okay, first I got hammered at 3 in the afternoon with a boy from out of town, then began the constant cover letters and calls to the unemployment offices. I had already booked a flight home since it was Christmas time (Merry Christmas, to me) but my parents were sweet to pay the flight date switch fee and I spent 12 days with my family trying to figure out wtf just happened. Right before I left, my roommate at the time told me her friend posted about her friend that needed a nanny, so I called her.

I interviewed a couple days after I got back on new year’s day after spending an all-too-fitting 2014-eve on the couch watching Grown Ups 2 and eating froyo with Ziggy. Ah, life. So even though I had never changed a diaper in my life, this amazing couple gave me a chance and trusted me with their tiny little 5-month-old son. Thus began the adventures with Dude Baby. Even though spending eight hours a day with the absolute cutest little blondie brought me joy and I learned so much about child development and my ability to care for another human, I was still alone a lot.

I grew into an entirely different person that first year. I went from being surrounded by family constantly with instant access to all my childhood friends to going on hikes, breakfast dates and movies by myself. It definitely wasn’t all bad. I was proud of myself. I went through the damn carwash and I finally got that curtain rod up. I found a job, an apartment, a roommate, I got laid off, found another job and I changed a whole lot of poopy diapers. I tested myself in a lot of ways. I ran (and fell) a lot. I blogged daily, finding comfort in your comments, but when I did cry on the shower floor, I did it hard.

I didn’t talk much about the loneliness here. I wanted to make you laugh, show you my crafts and cooking creations. I wanted gifs and funny hangover posts, but sometimes they’d come through—the long introspective walks, the essays, the heartbreak posts I wrote and rewrote and never posted. I mentioned moving away in passing, but never let on just how close I was to packing it all up, running to my mom and letting California be that crazy thing I did that one year.

I was so close, you guys. My lease ended, the guy I was dating moved across the country, I was turned down from two awesome job interviews, I randomly drove to Portland and then bam, my roommates and apartment fell into place. All of a sudden I had friends. People to eat Thai food on the floor and watch stupid tv with. People to go out and meet more friends with. Then a new job with supportive coworkers, more friends and a paycheck that didn't make me terrified to check my bank account on first of every month. Things started happening and I was suddenly so grateful I didn't drive across the country again.

It was harder than I could have imagined. Every step forward was met with epic falls backward. I suffered major sinus headaches on a regular basis from crying into my pillow. I went to events to put myself out there and would leave, mentally beating myself for not saying a word to anyone. I would take the train for hours a day just to spend the day in SF with familiar faces and go all the way back to my apartment to let Ziggy out and do it all over again.

I don't have everything figured out now and plenty of people have had it worse than I have, but I've learned more about myself in the past two years than I ever thought possible. I'm excited about my relationships, my career, my hobbies and my home in Oakland now. I still cry into my pillow sometimes and it's still ridiculously hard only seeing my family a few times a year, but even if I uproot everything again 6 months from now, I'll be eternally grateful that I spent at least two years in this place.

If you find yourself in a new, scary place and things keep falling apart, just know that sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes you have to go to the movies by yourself and sometimes you go to events and everyone ignores you. Sometimes you don't make any new friends and you long for home, familiar faces and family. It hurts and it's hard, but it'll be worth it. When you're sitting on the shower floor sobbing and you think you can't take it anymore, stick it out a little bit longer. You never know when a recruiter might contact you, or you might meet a cute boy at a bar, or your random roommates might turn into your best friends. Just don't give it all up too quickly.

It took me two years.


  1. SO PROUD OF YOU. Keep it up, beautiful soul. I really love this post and all the ish that happened to make it possible. You're thriving and I love it. :) Cheers!

  2. Hi! Read your blog for a while but never commented. I'm so glad you wrote and posted this-- this is exactly where I'm at right now. Moved to Tampa, don't know a single soul, still trying to score a job, trying (and failing) not to freak out as my bank account gets closer and closer to 0.... But, there's gotta be a turning point. I guess nothing worth doing is easy. Anywho thanks for your blog, keep it up. Words have impact. You never know who you might inspire. :-)

  3. <3<3 And I certainly love that your random drive to Portland marked some kind of beginning of this beautiful turning point for you. You're welcome to do it again anytime! <3<3 Love you so much my dear lady.

  4. I stumbled upon this this morning and definitely needed this <3 Thank you for writing something so beautiful and relatable. Sometimes it feels easier to just give up. Such a great post! xoxo P.

  5. This reminds me so much of my years in Utah. I went there for school, but the first year in particular was brutal.

    I really think it takes a special kind of strength to uproot your life and move to a new place where you don't know anyone. And I'm glad you stuck it out, because it sounds like it was worth it.

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