Tuesday, May 14, 2013

California vs. Virginia

This post has been formulating in my head over the last two months, but I haven't been able to put it down in words. Last night I lay in bed wide awake writing the post in my mind. It was a great post, well thought out and nicely written. I was awake, but too tired to actually get out of bed and write the post down in my computer. So here is my next morning attempt at putting my thoughts down as words.

People always say don't compare it's not good. Even Andy says it. I know that comparing is not good, but it happens anyway. It happens and I let it happen, so whatever! Since moving out to California it is in constant comparison to Virginia. Not saying that either is better, but there is always something here to remind me of Virginia...or even DC, which inevitably makes me homesick and I start to compare.

When Andy and I lived in DC and Virginia it was normal, comfortable, it was where we grew up and had spent a lot of our lives. After getting married I always figured we would move somewhere else and start new in a place that neither of us had been before. I thought we would make new friends, form a great group of like minded people, and go on a lot of adventures. That did not happen though. We spent our first three years of marriage in DC and Virginia.

They were great years though. We had lots of close friends surrounding us and we did all sorts of fun things. Yes, the area may have been the same as from our childhood, but our friendships were blossoming and there was always something going on, from parties, to cookouts, to random Easter egg hunts put on by our friends in the center of DC.

Then the job offer from California came. It was everything we had hoped for, only three years late. Our life was good where we were at, but the idea of being in a new place with a new exciting life seemed more important. So Andy took the job, I closed my chocolate business, we said goodbye to dear friends, and we moved out to the Bay Area.

Our first few months here were great. We were more focused on adventuring and seeing the area than anything else. Because of that, friendships were not made and community was not built. We also live in Oakland rather than San Francisco, which makes us feel isolated from everything that is happening. Most of the people we know are in SF, so it is frustrating to be across the Bay, which is close yet far at the same time.

So here we are living our "dream" life in California, yet all we can do is think about Virginia/DC and everything we used to have there. We push forward and try to make California work, but it is a slow almost excruciating process. I am discovering that friendships are not easily made in your late 20s, most people already have their solid friend group at this age. Yes, there are meet-up's to go to, but the actual friends made are far and few between.

California is the great land of sunshine (for that I am thankful), but I find myself missing the Virginia rain. I have never craved a heavy rain storm this much before. California has majestic beaches, wonderful wine, and endless parks of hiking to explore. Virginia though, has rolling green mountains, rivers for rafting, and loads of great friends. So the comparison continues... while we figure out where we fit into the grand scheme of everything...


  1. Hi Ellie,
    sorry to hear you're having such a rough go of it. I nearly drove myself crazy the first year I moved out to California with comparing it to Brooklyn. There is no comparison. I still miss it. Summer is coming, though! And people are more apt to get out and do stuff when the weather is warm. Don't give up on Oakland, SF is great but there are tons of things to do on your side of the Bay as well. You're right, this stage of life (before kids and the forced social interaction they bring) its hard to meet new people. Everyone is wrapped up in their own thing.
    Speaking of Meetups - I joined a couple of wks ago and am actually having a little get together this weekend for Bay to Breakers ( http://www.meetup.com/San-Francisco-Bay-Area-Fun-Couples/events/118119662/ ) if you're interested.
    Either way, sorry to see you're still homesick. And while Cali is great, it may not be right for you guys :(
    All the best!

    1. Toni-
      Your comments are always so eloquent, you should start a blog!

      I agree, there is no comparison to VA and I should just leave it at that. :) I often think we should have kids so we can skip this stage of friend making and have our kids do the work for us, ha! Probably easier said than done.
      I'll check out your get together! Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Ellie,
    You're one amazing lady, and I applaud you and Andy for taking such a leap of faith! I forgot to tell you this the other day, I remember moving to Savannah, GA with Chris and thinking all the same things. Sure we loved exploring, but I yearned for the comfort and close proximity of all things familiar up in Pennsylvania. All we did for the first year was talk about how great Pittsburgh, PA was, I think we annoyed everyone we met, haha. The end benefit was Chris and I grew that much closer together in our relationship, and eventually made some great lasting friendships we still keep today. Hang in there, love!

  3. Thanks Ellie! I started thinking about blogging when we moved down here b/c I was so busy crafting/cooking/etc. But, I have no idea where to start. Plus, I take terrible pics. I used to have a diaryland acct way back in the day and that was fun. One of these days maybe I'll get around to it. The hardest part would probably be deciding on a name! BTW - I'll send yout he email I sent to the people attending the meetup thing.

  4. Hi Ellie,

    I just came upon your post and wanted to share my story since we have a lot in common. My husband and I also grew up in the dc area and moved out to the sf Bay Area a couple years after college for a job opportunity my hubby had. We were still dating and knew no one else there. Like you mentioned, the first few months were a fun adventure. Even though we were both working, it seemed like we were on vacation. After that starting wearing off the homesickness began. We would always compare and talk about moving back. However as time went by, things started to change. We started making friends at work, we moved to a new apt in an area we loved(I think this made a huge difference for us. I would encourage you to move to another area if you don't like Oakland.) After a couple years we were in love with California. I think after such a major move it really does take a couple years to really settle and get your groove.

    So after living in Cali for 7 years we decided to move back to dc to be closer to family last year. Our son was born in Cali and I felt that we needed to at least try living back in va for family. I felt guilty that my family couldn't regularly see our son. I thought I would always regret not giving it a shot so after much debate we finally did it. We've been back in va for almost a year now and I miss Cali more then ever. I'm so worried we might have made the wrong choice. It's great having family around but I feel like we also gave up so much. I miss all our friends, the beautiful weather, lack of bugs, cute downtowns, huge variety of cuisine(I'm dying for shabu shabu but you can't get it here:-( and so much more. Sorry this turned into a huge rant on my part but I just wanted to encourage you to give it some time. The friendships will come and you will start finding things you love about sf. Cali really is a beautiful place to be:-) Jen

    1. Hi Jen,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate hearing other people's stories. We have actually decided to move back to VA. It feels right and we are both very excited about our decision. Things are really opening up for us on the VA end. I hope you can find more peace about your decision to move back. :) Where in VA are you?

  5. Hi, I'm actually about to be in the exact opposite position, as I am moving from California to Virginia. I'm extremely nervous, and I was wondering- what is your honest opinion of life in Virginia? I have done searching, but only found things such as tax and crime rates, which isn't my biggest concern. Anyways, thanks for the post, I hope you find happiness in California, it'll always hold a special place in my heart.