'Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, Adventure.'
Updated: Jul 11, 2022
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I was talking to a new friend the other evening at a certain hotel bar in downtown San Francisco. Within about five minutes of meeting we had negotiated the rockier foothills of nervous hello's, we had swiftly traversed on to the smoother, grassier plains of common ground, leaning forward by degrees, saying excitedly: 'Yes, yes, exactly.'
I know many use the word 'sapiosexual', which explicitly refers to those stimulated by intellect. If there's a word for being stimulated by able and charismatic conversationalists, then I would like to know that word. There is nothing sexier to me than a man who knows what to do with his words.
Anyway, I digress. We were talking about travel, and he said: 'You know, this is probably going to sound weird - '
'Hit me with your weirdness,' I said, smiling, liking him more and more.
'- but I really love being in airports. Everyone is going somewhere. Even if they're not that excited to get there, they're going somewhere new. I love that.'
'Going somewhere' has been the theme of my life the last year. I moved to America in December of '15, and it's been quite the cultural shock - if not an icewater plunge, the odd shiver of cold water down the back of the neck every so often when I come up with a bump against something particularly American that I don't understand (Thanksgiving and the complex emotions some people have around it being one of the most recent).
One of the major reasons I decided to leave Tokyo was that I thrive on human interaction, I missed chatting to strangers. I didn't want to be 'The Foreigner' at the gym, the coffee shop, the post office, the cycling club. But of course, re-establishing a social circle built up over eleven years is not something you achieve overnight (or, indeed, in eleven months).
I originally touched down in Texas, for a variety of personal reasons. Many people asked me when I was moving to New York. I asked myself the same question. New York speaks to me in the same language that Tokyo did. All the cliches are cross-referenced: the city that never sleeps; the excellent food to be had at 4am; the thronging millions commuting in, out, across; the never-ending hustle. I visited for the first time this year and, even at rush hour, I felt nothing but exhilarated. I love cities that feel raw and alive. Hong Kong and Seoul have a similar energy,
I stayed in New York a month. I tried to get to know the city, at least a little - an impossible task in thirty days. I met some inspiring women who were as warm and friendly as their pictures were beautiful and their profiles accomplished. I ate at tiny Japanese restaurants, sang karaoke, danced, felt my soul expand at being surrounded by so many millions of people who didn't really care about me at all. The vestiges of my Tokyo life clung to me. Yes, I thought, as I squeezed onto the subway at midnight, stale underground air in my face, someone's wool coat rough against my cheek. I missed this.
So this is the part where I'm supposed to tell you that I moved to New York.
Except I didn't.
'How about San Francisco?' a dear client had asked me when we met in Tokyo. 'You'd bankrupt me if you were that close, but I'd love to have you there.'
I smiled noncommittally. 'Maybe.'
San Francisco? I hadn't really thought about it in any kind of detail. It was really too small, I thought - seven by seven miles, about a million people, right? No twenty-four hour nightlife. Too 'techy'. Too expensive. Horror stories about five-figure rents. And wasn't it cold most of the year? I'm from Scotland - I had enough of damp and chilly summers as a kid.
Then I visited in the summer with my dear friend and confidante Emma Emerio. I walked the hills; I went hiking; I gazed on the incredible views of the Bay. I met some of the most incredible women. I met the kindest, most respectful men.
Constant Reader, I fell in love.
In the end a place is the sum of its people. It is a difficult thing - possibly the most difficult thing I've done in my adult life thus far - to uproot yourself from a city you know back-to-front and remove yourself several thousand miles, multiple time zones, and a sixteen-hour time difference away from your friends and loved ones. I've been vulnerable this year, and at times I've been lonely; at times I have questioned my decision. But I think I will be happy here.
Thank you to those gentlemen friends who expounded on the benefits of West Coast living, who expressed such genuine excitement at my decision, who sent me housewarming gifts, who made it a point to see me as soon as I moved here. A simple ‘thank you’ cannot express my feelings at how the incredibly talented, intelligent and stimulating women with whom San Francisco is blessed have welcomed me wholeheartedly and with genuine love and friendship into their tight-knit and supportive companion community. Thank all of you for showing this Bay Area newbie the ropes. (I think I only called it 'San Fran' once.)
New York is still calling to me, as I think it does to everyone who sometimes likes to go out to eat at two in the morning, and I plan to visit often - this bicoastal living I've heard about sounds like a great compromise - and I may yet move there in a couple of years. But for now, San Francisco is my new home.
Airports are exciting, but having a proper home in one of the most vibrant cities in the world is proving even more so. Come and visit me.
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