Watts (chipotle) wrote,

The two-year cicadas

I opened my last entry, back on June 17, with “it’s been almost a month since I’ve updated my LiveJournal.” Well, now it’s been, uh, more than a month.

I went to tugrik’s big shop shindig (to borrow jakebe’s word) on Saturday and had a great time. I’ve driven all over hell the last couple of days, so it seems, between here in Foster City, jadedfox’s place in Alameda and Tugrik’s shop down in San Jose; while I was tempted to drive somewhere yesterday (when I wrote this) just to find a quiet place to hang out, I was also tempted to, well, just stay in one place. The sedentary impulse won out.

Beyond that, things really haven’t changed much, which is why I haven’t been motivated to write here. (As others have observed, one consequence of using Twitter is that it tends to subsume “What am I doing?” journal posts. I don’t consider this a bad thing, but I don’t necessarily consider it a good thing, either; it’s just a thing thing.) I’m still working on the contract, enjoying it in some respects, in others telling myself it’s a Good Learning Experience™. As I wrote back on the 17th, the big downside is money, and it continues to be so; I now have an as-yet-untallied expense for body work on my car, after managing to expertly crunch the side panel against a concrete post. It’s minor as far as such things go—no frame damage, as far as I can tell—but not sufficiently minor to be ignored indefinitely.

So. I feel like I’m back in a cycle that I’ve revisited pretty much every two years: underemployment, dwindling finances, wondering whether I should move to a cheaper metro area. Realistically, there are only three other metro areas that I’d consider, because I’m not interested in moving to a place where I wouldn’t have some kind of friend network already in place: Tampa, Orlando, and Seattle. All three of those places have roughly the same cost of living, which is easily 50% less than the cost of living in the SF Bay Area. This is something that can’t be dismissed too easily.

On the flip side, none have a climate that enthuses me. Seattle has rain year-round, snow in winters and averages 6 out of 10 cloudy days, which is pretty staggering for somebody who’s pretty much only lived in Florida and Northern California. And in Florida, summer daily highs are over 90 and highs over 80 are common for over six months. This is, in a very literal sense, Really Not Cool. While 70% humidity in SF and Seattle is quite pleasant, add 25 degrees to the ambient temperature and it’s just about unlivable. (Yeah, I know most of my friends in Florida would disagree, but y’know, most of my friends in Seattle would probably disagree that it’s “too” rainy there: you just internalize the climate where you live as The Way It Is.)

Despite the worries I have about moving to Seattle to discover that I actually do have Seasonal Affective Disorder—if anywhere could bring it out, it’d be there—and despite having several friends I really cherish in and around Tampa Bay and Orlando, I’d lean toward Seattle if all other things were equal. I’m pretty sure I prefer the West Coast to the East at this point in terms of not just climate but geography and culture. I like having hills and mountains; while I’m not keen on having to shovel snow, I’d like to be able to visit it fairly easily. And while Disney World’s restaurants turned me into a foodie—well, the ones I’d lay that blame on serve West Coast food: the California Grill, very consciously inspired by Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters; the Flying Fish Cafe, whose founding chef actually moved out here about the same time I did; Artist Point, at one time my favorite restaurant ever—and with a Pacific Northwest theme. I still haven’t spent as much time in Seattle as I’d like to, but I’ve loved most of what I’ve seen there.

But all other things aren’t equal; in six years, my mom will be in her seventies, and with no partner and no other children, I’m it for her family. Living separated by several thousand miles isn’t likely to be sustainable, and the chances of getting her to move are probably minimal. And right now I’m “underemployed” and my savings are sharply lower than they were a year ago—too low to support a move to a place where I didn’t have someone willing to essentially let me camp out in a room indefinitely for free while I scrambled to find work. You know, like, say, mom would. So the chances are pretty high that I’m going to end up in Tampa or Orlando sooner or later—the questions are just whether it’s going to be “sooner” or “later,” and whether I’m going to go somewhere else first. I’d prefer not to move soon, but that’s likely to be determined less by desire than by circumstance.

And, so: the recurring two-year cycle of wondering whether I’m going to be moving, and if so, where. And what will happen when I get there.

Tags: life, urban, work
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