Every time I tell my husband that it’s okay if we stay in the suburbs, I almost immediately have some crazy existential crisis about NEEDING to be in San Francisco. I don’t know why. Hubs is right when he says that everyone (well, everyone my parents’ age, anyway) is leaving. Most of my friends and peers are still there, but for how long? How long until they realize they need a three bedroom house with a yard for those kids and that dog? How long before they get tired of hunting for parking every time they come home, or, if they take Muni, getting thrown up on by some random drunk person? How long before the excitement of the city becomes more of an annoyance than anything else, and they decide to cut their losses and move away?
I love San Francisco, and I always will. It was my home for the first eighteen years of my life, and I had experiences growing up there that would have been impossible anywhere else. And I really wanted to raise my kids there. I wanted them to learn independence by taking public transit. I wanted them to graduate from Lowell. I wanted them to be able to proudly say that they were second-generation San Franciscans. I wanted them entrenched in that history and diversity.
But having that upbringing comes with a price. When I first moved to suburbia in 2006, I was delighted with the peace and quiet and the gorgeous natural views. AND THE SPACE! Oh, the space. I paid less for a nine hundred square foot apartment in the suburbs than I would have for a one hundred square foot bedroom in the city. I face that same decision now between San Francisco (where four hundred thousand dollars buys a one-bedroom condo) and suburbia (where four hundred thousand dollars buys a four-bedroom house with a huge backyard). It should be a no-brainer.
And it is a no-brainer. But my brain and my heart are two different things. And my heart longs for the city.
I can’t explain it. And I can’t make it go away. Maybe twenty years from now, when our kids are graduating from their suburban high schools and moving on to suburban colleges, I’ll still be sitting in my suburban living room, begging Hubs to move back to San Francisco with me. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll finally settle into suburbia, resigning my heart to not loving where I live, because I know that this is what’s best, in spite of myself.
This piece originally appeared on Twenties Hacker.