SF's Cold Weather Makes My Heart Sing / Draft version
Why San Francisco’s Cold Weather Makes My Heart Sing -
A Metaphor of Contentedness for the Second Half of My Life
There are events in people’s lives that completely change the direction of a life. For me it was a long-time job that out of the blue turned so evil, that I knew I had to make one of those life changing decisions. I could either go under with the new depressing, highly medicated life, or stop and reevaluate everything in my life at age 44, with the intent of springing out of this deep depression, taking back my life and all that I love about living. I found the strength to do the latter. Two days after the nadir of my depression, I found this Web Design and Interactive Media program offered by the Art Institute of CA and new it would be the way I reclaim my life. I would completely bust myself out of a “comfort” zone of home and garden ownership, put myself back into school, and have this program be the way I move back to San Francisco. I will take everything I know professionally and personally, and I will build the second half of my life in the Bay Area.
But it’s possible that none of this would have happened if I had not recently experienced the pure exhilaration of feeling how cold San Francisco is compared to the East Coast summers. Here is my story.
I lived in San Francisco for close to 4 years after college, enough to take it all in, but had not lived my life enough to know what San Francisco would later mean to me. 20 years later after having adding Brooklyn & Manhattan, NYC and Lancaster, PA to my living experiences I had the following conversation with my father’s long ago Preaching Professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary, a liberal Brooklyn-born “New Yorker” with an expansive heart and mind. Uncle Robert and his wife used to have me over for dinner in Lancaster when I visited from NYC, when I was still pondering moving to Lancaster from NYC. His advice to me was: “Just so you are aware, San Francisco is future time – 2040, New York City is current time – 2013, but Lancaster will always be the 1950’s”. We looked at each other and laughed, and I promptly moved back to Lancaster. This quote is worthy of an essay by itself, but suffice to say, there are significant differences of life values among these three locations, Lancaster representing Middle America.
But the big re-evaluation of my life did not start with this, this was just an ongoing backdrop as I continued to live and observe. The big re-awakening happened for me on my last two summer vacations to San Francisco, taken intentionally during the high heat and humidity of an East Coast summer. Stepping out of the San Francisco airport each time, I had such a surge of physical relief because it was COLD. This physical reaction towards the crisp and cool told me what I already knew from reading the humidity readings on my iPhone every night: East coast summer humidity is 70% over, San Francisco humidity levels even with a 75 degree day is 60% and under. Today it is 73 in SF with a humidity of 21%. Many of my East Coast friends suffer from SAD disease with the onset of Autumn and Winter, from the lack of sun and a dread of cold temperatures.
For me the sense of harmony that I feel with cool, low humidity weather creates such a profound sense of physical relief and contentedness, that I am aware this is more than just about me and the weather. This has to do with who I am, a fully realized (?) 45 year old woman, who has the freedom to make a 180 degree change in her life to move back to an area that is more harmonious with who I am, how I function, and what inspires me. I can only explain the inspiration of the cold weather by comparing it to air, like primal basic needs for me. The weather is my metaphor of living a content life.
Without this fight, I can be open to all that San Francisco has to offer and hope to flourish. I do not write about finding Utopia. I hope to embrace my profession without abuse, with room to change jobs within a larger cosmopolitan area should I get stuck in a place like this again. I can take endless walks that offer me inspirational public artworks and murals throughout the city and region. It is a designer’s paradise. I will have access to the National Parks and non-commercial coast lines, as well as the cultural offerings of the city like opera, modern art museums, unconventional films and modern architecture. I will enjoy this balance between nature and city cultural life, which makes this city and area unusual and exceptional. I can live with awareness from my other life experiences, what it is to me that makes SF “future time”, without having to explain it to anyone except myself.
If I manage to flourish, I will most likely need a one year nap. But after that, I hope to be grateful. With this gratitude, I hope that I will be able to support others in choosing a whole-hearted life, even if it means first having to risk everything.