It was June 17, 2010 when I boarded the plane for San Francisco with a one-way ticket and guitar in hand, $5000 in cash wrapped in a handkerchief and an issue of Afar magazine stashed in my carry on. At 33,000 feet, I sat beside an Aussie who was also SF bound. In that elegant lilting accent of the Southern Hemisphere, he asked what I was going to California for. I’m moving there, I replied, to be a writer—a travel writer. Do you have a job lined up? He asked. No, I replied, tugging the magazine out of my bag as I spoke. Soon, though, I declared, I will work for Afar.  He smiled. Well, then, what’s your name? I told him. A memorable name, he said, I’ll watch for it on newsstands.

So began my big city debut and my quest to find my writer’s voice among a dense 7 mile by 7 mile block of 780,000 people. I arrived in that freespirited city on the bay without a job or a home, only my sister’s couch to crash on and a single goal in mind: Afar. My first weeks were spent stumbling akwardly against the rhythm of the city–hopping the wrong bus to the opposite side of town I was headed for, getting lost in the dreaded Tenderloin, being turned away from every restaurant job I applied for, and desperately escaping to the green refuge of Golden Gate Park at any and every opportunity. Finally, a month in, I had my first city apartment secured–a big, cheap room in a shitty cavernous Victorian on Haight Street with five people, where I soon found mice in the kitchen and a nocturnal bar crowd at my front door. My job search was relentlessly discouraging. Even eight years of restaurant experience didn’t dull the sharp cut of the recession and at every hot dining spot where I hopefully dropped my resume in the hands of an nonchalant manager, I was just one of at least twenty who had done the same thing that day.

One golden evening in July, my sister and I ventured downtown to an issue release party for Afar. I had scribbled the editors’ names in my notebook and gave them a quick study before entering the fancy North Beach bar. Names without faces don’t do one much good, but before long I met the faces of the names and with only a determined hope I began to work my magic. One anxious, unemployed month later–actually it was the afternoon of another hard day of unsuccessful job searching when I laid my head in my hands and thought ‘this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I should never have come here’–I was offered the internship. And so, the next six months of my life were decided; I was going to become a city girl. I was going to work downtown at a magazine. I was going to work for Afar.

I’ve climbed to 18,200 feet and felt my lungs would burst, I’ve watched my childhood farm get sold to a stranger, I’ve payed my way through college while working multiple jobs, but I must say that adapting to the grit and all consuming energy of a small concrete space inhabited by such a vibrant variety of people has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. But, so often the biggest challenges bring the biggest reward. I hope that Aussie has been keeping his eye on the newsstands because these days, he is sure to see my name there, and this is just the start.

For stories, musings and verse on city life and the great state of California, click here.

Home in sunsets

and fog on the bay,

on Palm tree-lined boulevards

and cyprus canopied parks.

Oh, San Francisco


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