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September 10, 2016

I left my soul in San Francisco?

I’ve been gone from Twitter now for over a year; I left last July, joining LendUp in August. If you had asked me this time last year about the change I’d have been pure saccharine: I’d found a company whose mission I believe in, realized that the free food and celebrity visits weren’t half as important as I’d thought and given myself a challenge and opportunity to grow. If you asked me six months ago, my tune would have changed a bit: It felt I might be testing the limits of my abilities—which was what I’d signed up for. Even though I might occasionally think about the delicious meals and comforts Twitter afforded, I was excited to be giving my all for a company who wanted to improve the lives of others.

Then August came. LinkedIn reminded everyone that I was having a a work anniversary, and my inbox was flooded with a bunch of nearly-identical well wishes, interspersed with an occasional real inquiry. More than one of those unscripted ones mentioned surprise that I was still in San Francisco, which I chalked up to us just not being in touch as often as we’d once been.

I also went to Mark’s wedding in August, which I last wrote about. An old acquaintance asked me bluntly: “Why are you still in San Francisco?” He’d visited with his family a year or two ago and we’d discussed the pros and cons of living in the city by the bay. My response consisted mainly my personal desire the mission of LendUp to succeed and finding a place I liked better where I would be able to earn similar income. Not my most inspiring answer, but it was true. As you may have read in the post, I found myself cheerleading rapidly losing steam.

A few days after returning, I’m chatting with a cousin in NY, talking about dreams of giving disadvantaged communities tech training or teaching low-income parents what their computer-inclined kids need to be successful. As someone who’s historically been involved with kids he supports the concept and tries to convince me to “come to the nonprofit side” as if I’d not worked in that space before him.

“Lol I did know that which is why I was surprised you entered the heart of the storm,” he texted. “From the outside, San Fran [sic] seems very anti-Leftsider.”

Hmm… three independent inputs in the course of a month questioning my fealty to the bay area. It’s true that my feelings about the area never reached my initial expectations, but as I’ve moved around I’ve found little things that have made me hope that all is not lost in the area; that prosperity and diversity and altruism can find homeostasis here. But maybe I’m fooling myself; now over five years into this California experiment, how long is necessary to come to a conclusion?

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