So how does it feel to be back? Some friends ask.
Short answer: Good.
I feel good. I’m happy to see friends. See family. Visit the taco truck four times in the last week and half. In fact, coming home has been better than expected, especially since my last few weeks in Spain I was trying to extend my ticket to no avail. So I threw my hands up in the air and told myself that the flight date I choose seven months prior must be for a reason.
I’m enjoying relaxing, catching up with friends, reading, and am trying to maintain this little ole blog of mine, if anything to record all my memories and thoughts before they fade into the distance. Not having much of a routine, means I spend more time on the computer than I need but I’m creating structure slowly. Adjusting.
I’ve started the job search and it feels good. I’m trying to take it slow, apply for what feels right and what I want. I think about how much I questioned my decision last year to go back and this year without any cushion of a grant based position lined up, occasionally the thought seems alluring but it doesn’t feel right. At least, not right now. Going back to Basque Country seems like going backwards but on the grander scheme of things, it’s likely not. I’m just ready for new and different challenges.
Teaching English wasn’t gratifying for me at least, not as an assistant or through this program. So I’ve come home in search of something new. Something that allows me to focus on my interests, desires, wants and dreams. It was easy to question if I left Spain too soon fresh off the plane but now 6 weeks has passed and “home” seems right where I belong. What’s another year in Spain? I wondered. Is there really any rush to “come back” and live in the States? Simple answer: No. You see, I worked 20 hours between my teaching assistant position and one-on -one classes. I made decent money by European standards (you can’t compare to American salaries) and worked part-time in comparison to what most Spaniards or Americans work. That is, Spaniards, Basques or Catalans who were lucky enough to have a job. Any job. I had enough money to pay rent, utilities, buy groceries, go out for pintxos a few times a week and travel. I certainly didn’t save any money while abroad, in fact, I spent money from my savings that I was lucky to have. Now I’m home and the cost of living and sky roof prices of rent are in my face. Many (well-paid folks) say the cost of living is relative to the salaries earned but I question how true this is. I think if they had a lower paying salary they may see life through a different lens. Sure, salaries will be higher than a small town in Iowa but are all salaries sufficient to live comfortably in the bubble of the SF Bay Area?
I say No.
When did it become the norm for a small to medium-sized room in San Francisco balloon to a $1,000 or more in rent + utilities? Many apartments now rent out there living spaces so that high cost you pay doesn’t even include a common space anymore. Yup.
Cost of living keeps going up. I’m sure that’s partly it but I believe it’s a bigger beast. Over the last few years as more tech industries are enticing employees with great perks such as shuttling employees to neighboring Silicon Valley so they can live and enjoy city life. I don’t blame them. If I was in the industry, I’d want to live in the city and play too. But what happens when their salaries are so high that they can afford to offer double the rent when 50-200 people are competing for a room? Whose going to get the room? We all know the answer.
I wonder from an anthropological perspective:
How will it change the city? How has it already changed the city? What happens when artists, writers, activists, immigrants, students, and families no longer can afford to live in this city? All these amazing and interesting folks who make up San Francisco are forced out because they don’t earn enough money to support themselves?
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who shares these sentiments. And San Francisco isn’t the only one with crazy high rents where locals are being pushed out. A friend who longs to live the Parisian lifestyle tells me Paris faces a similar issue with big time investors currently buying up real estate and apartment prices soaring, it’s so bad, politicians know they must address this issue and implement some changes in the coming election if they want a chance at being elected. Which makes me wonder, What are our SF politicians doing about this craze? Sure, it’s bringing in a lot of tax revenue but what about the vast changes it’s been having within a lot of the communities? Do they care? Is it their ethical responsibility? How will SF change?
From my perspective it’s hard to see it changing for the better. It seems it will be a city mostly of young professionals who can play and enjoy the city with their 6 figure income bracket who are willing to pay what ever it costs. It’s also interesting talking with folks who live in the city, mostly transplants, who when they hear me voice my sentiments, say well, “cities are always expensive.” I nod my head and say, “sure, that’s true.” But maybe it’s different because I’m born and raised here and as a local I feel pushed out of my backyard, a city so close yet I’ve never had the chance to experience.
But you know. Maybe it’s ok.
Change is imminent. Change is constant.
I’ve changed and so has the city.
For me, I no longer long to live in San Francisco. It’s been on my mind throughout the years but so far it hasn’t aligned for me. Now with prices against my values and my awareness that I’m a smaller city/town type of gal. So I’m focusing on living in a place with affordable Bay area prices with what I want a sense of community, places I can walk or ride a bike to, farmers markets, and if possible close to public transit.
And who knows, maybe the Bay is where I’ll stay for a long while or maybe it’s only a pit stop. Right now having the familiar and having friends and family around is a nice reprieve.