El Camino College Union

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From one bay to another: my journey moving to San Francisco and back

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It is 10 p.m. and Parks and Recreation reruns are playing in the background and flashes of Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge appear out of the corner of my eye.

Immediately, memories of my five month journey in San Francisco fog my mind.

In March of 2016, I was offered admittance into the University of San Francisco with a generous scholarship.

“This is an offer too big to pass up,” I told my grandmother over the phone.

Throughout the summer of 2016, I was frequently met with the question, “Why San Francisco?”— A question to which I never had a genuine response to.

I had always romanticized San Francisco since I was young. I pictured myself perusing small, independent bookstores and having enlightening conversations with people donning knit sweaters in dim coffee shops.

“San Francisco is my kind of city,” I would reassure myself.

The drive up to The Bay was nothing short of a disaster. Clenching a pillow from my bed at home, in the passenger seat of my aunt’s minivan, the prospect of this move being a great mistake served as a cloud over my head.

Watching that minivan drive off, filled with the people who just calmed my anxious mind and unpacked my new home, forced me to feel emptiness, as if my identity and past had just disappeared into the horizon.

Almost immediately, I met Katrina, a petite ray of sunshine from Orange County.

We spent the following weeks exploring the city and doing exactly what I had envisioned, alongside some fascinating people—Natalie, a passionate future doctor from Atlanta; Kayla, a brilliant writer from Palos Verdes; and Hope, an inquisitive woman from Redding.

I even got my own radio show with my partner-in-crime, a treasure named Chloe—an experience that I consider to be one of the most rewarding.

In bed at night, thoughts rolled in.

What was the purpose of being in San Francisco? Did I only move here to make everyone else proud?

At home visits, I would flood my family with stories about how I could walk to Amoeba Music in minutes and how the bakery on Arguello and Clement had the greatest croissants of all time.

I would leave out the times I walked through The Panhandle with tears streaming down my face and the new Bon Iver on repeat in my ears.

I would leave out the fact that I did not see myself thriving in the city.

Loneliness wasn’t the problem. The emptiness was, and it never left me since the first day. I felt completely disconnected from who I was.

A lot of people crave a new start. I was completely content with my position in the world before I moved. The idea of starting over in a new place was exhausting, and quite frankly, unnecessary.

I did not want to admit to myself that San Francisco came into my life at the wrong time, but I realized that I would be wasting money and opportunities if I continued to ignore it.

Over winter break, after my first semester, I made the decision to withdrawal from the University of San Francisco and enroll at El Camino College.

El Camino seemed like a better option, due to the fact that it would save my family an enormous amount of money, and also because I would be getting a solid education in the perfect location.

It was a decision that came as a shock to many—even myself at some points—but it was the best for me at that moment.

The beautiful people I met in San Francisco were my only foundation and leaving them behind left me broken.

As I boarded a Greyhound bus en route to Los Angeles with a box of my belongings, I looked back at the people who had been my family for the past five months with misty eyes.

I disappeared off into the horizon, startled and eager.

I was on my way back to the city that I invested my identity in. The land of motivation, dreamers, oddly comforting traffic, for-your-consideration billboards, and city lights as far as the eye could see.

Did homesickness have a hand in my move back? Sure.

However, I saw nothing wrong with moving back to the city I would be living my best life in.

In fact, I would strongly recommend it.

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About the Writer
Zach Hatakeyama, Editor-in-chief, News, and Features Editor

Zach Hatakeyama is in his fourth semester at El Camino College and in his second semester at The Union newspaper. He likes to cover features and art stories....

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From one bay to another: my journey moving to San Francisco and back