Monday, May 10, 2004

Five Years in SF

I don't have the precise date I actually moved here but I'm fairly certain it was April or May of 2000. I'm utterly shocked to realize that we've been in the Bay Area for five years now.

Let's take a quick drive down memory lane... back to mid-March 2000, Austin Texas. Mixed feelings infiltrated my mind. Anguish, uncertainty, and downright fear swept through me. Was this the right move? What if the whole dotcom thing crumbled? What will happen if it did? How would we handle financial struggles? We had no support system in California. For the first time, K and I would be without numerous family and friends. At the same time, I recollect the move evoked refreshing feelings as well. I would soon be transported to a beautiful city with clean slate. I was excited about rolling the dice and taking the first serious gamble in my life. I thought I was embarking on a mission that could make me wealthy. I had a relatively high paying job lined up at an up and coming dotcom in downtown San Francisco. I'd be granted 10,000 shares when we went public. Now let's see... the stock only needs to hit $10 and I'll be on my way, right? Ballin Outacontrol. This was going to be too easy.

I remember constantly fielding phone calls from perspective recruiters as I relaxed in my comfy Round Rock cubicle. I remember the looks of disbelief on the faces of my coworkers as I notified them of my resignation. I clearly recall the sunny afternoon in Austin when movers loaded our every possession (including our only vehicle) into that Mayflower eighteen wheeler. I remember hopping on that Southwest flight with K, switching planes in sunny San Diego, then eventually touching down at SFO. I recollect the first thing I did when we got settled in: drive to Sprint in San Mateo to pick up the latest cutting edge cell phone in existence. I remember K and I driving down the coast and exploring places like Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz for the first time. I remember thinking that commute from SJ to SF couldn't be that bad. I roamed the dotcommer infested streets having a lot of money in my pockets as I just got paid a then sizeable signing bonus. I remember the long rides on Caltrain to and from the city. The bulk of my time back then was spent slaving at work and commuting. I was out the door by 7am and back in San Jose by 10pm. During the weekends we'd treat ourselves to meals at Ranch 99. Occasionally, we'd hang out at M and L's over dinners and Red Hooks, watching the NBA playoffs. I'd sometimes kick it with my closest road dawg P, hitting the malls to shop for gear and to peep these unfamiliar young Cali tenders. I remember flying first class to NYC for trade shows where I spent more time impressing big wigs with my impeccable tastes in single malt scotch than actually providing tech support. I faintly remember being drunk as hell at the Mariott Marquis while a cute coworker tried to entice me into going up to her room. I remember it all... like it was yesterday.

Approximately five years later, the setting is San Francisco, south of market, May, two thousand and four Ay Dee. I endured a frightening layoff at my dotcom less than a year after arriving in SF. I remember feeling helpless and disgusted when HR declared that I'd be receiving a whopping 2 weeks severance. I remember steering clear of the midday drown-your-sorrows meeting at Lefty's. All those who were cut supposedly attended and got lit. Instead I recall driving home to San Brew, vowing to myself to eat ham and cheese sandwiches until I found a job. Once home, I proceeded to spam hundreds of perspective employers and recruiters with my resume. It paid off. I had calls returned that very afternoon. I had offers within a couple days. Somehow I managed to land the most attractive job to me (my current one). It was the one I was completely underqualified for. It reaffirmed the fact that getting laid off happens for the best.

K and I have lived in San Jose, San Bruno, Daly City, and now finally SF SOMA. Snowboarding and billiards have become my sports of choice. I've certainly become more refined and cultured since my days back in Texas. I now read Bukowski, watch Kurosawa, and listen to John Lee Hooker. I can pair food with wine. lol. I've designed software that lives on mission critical servers all over the country. Financially, my net worth has increased to new heights. I'm now trying get that elusive degree for the umpteenth time. I now sport a wedding band.

All in all, the past five years have been totally positive in almost every way. Yeah we don't own a home yet in this obscenely expensive city but we're working on it. Then we can move on to grown folks challenges like kids, refi's, and mowing the lawn (ok maybe not if we still live here in SF). Also, it would probably help if we had that family support system nearby.

Who knows what the future holds for me in the next five years. I suppose anything can happen. But one thing's for sure that I need to constantly remind myself of: May 2004 will feel like yesterday in May 2009.