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A year abroad
What a difference a year can make. Back in March 2020 I wrote a bright-eyed and cheery post about my arrival in Denver after almost a decade in the Bay Area. I had been there for about two weeks and was very excited for my new life. At the time there were “only” 5,145 cases of covid-19 in the United States. That same day San Francisco, and surrounding counties, issued the first stay-at-home orders, which were expected to last only a few weeks. I felt like I had just escaped being stuck in a city I was ready to leave. Little did any of us realize that restrictions on life were about to become a semi-permanent fixture.
In that post I alluded to first moving to San Francisco and deciding to treat it like a year abroad. If it didn’t work out then I’d simply move back to where I was before. I didn’t necessarily have that attitude when I moved to Denver though. I thought it was going to be the start of a new, long chapter in my life. After almost exactly a year I ended up moving back to SF and am incredibly happy with the decision.
Adjusting to a new city can be hard no matter what. It involves learning the area, finding new places to eat and shop, creating new social circles, and adjusting to local quirks. All of that takes time and a lot of effort. Covid-19 restrictions created a totally different world that I wasn’t ready for. Because of lockdowns I spent most of my time at home alone. I only visited my office a few times. I mostly ate to-go food from restaurants. I never went to any bars. I only met a handful of new people and didn’t get to join any running or other social groups. Everything I had looked forward to was all of sudden not available to me.
Don’t get me wrong, Colorado was not a bad place to survive the pandemic. I had a house with plenty of space. Restrictions were a little less draconian than in California. I had some good friends there who showed me the best time they possibly could. And there were an endless amount of trails to explore (when it wasn’t snowing).
All of the things that I left San Francisco because of are still here but leaving allowed me to see more of the things that I enjoyed about the city. It has made me even more excited to continue exploring all of the places that I love and to want to make living here a better place for everyone. Sometimes you just have to lose something to realize how good you had it.
I’m sure Denver really is a great place to live. It was just bad timing in a weird world. It feels great to be back in a place that I’ve long called, and feels like, home. All in all, not a bad year abroad.