I’m winding down my last week living in San Francisco (at least for the time being).  I moved here in 1999 excited about living in sunny, warm California and driving my Integra down the Californian highways with the windows down and the sun roof open.  I have since sold my Integra and am still waiting for the sun and warm weather to arrive in San Francisco.

I’m going to miss the city and the city life.  I’m going to miss my great apartment in Russian Hill that I’ve called home for over 5 years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.  I’ll miss rocking out to the radio in my bathroom, basking in the warmth of my ancient-but-still-very-functional heater for those cold SF nights (and days), and laying out on my super comfy leather couch and watching football on my flatscreen LCD.

One of the things I’ll miss the most is tying on my helmet, getting on my scooter and riding all over the city.  You can be sure I have not owned my last scooter.  Most of all though I will miss the many friends I have made in my 9 years here.  I came out knowing only Dylan and Adam and through them and their friends and my co-workers I have met so many great people.  I almost expect to run into someone I know everytime I wander around the city and that’s kinda cool.

So the question is with all this great stuff why am I leaving?  That my friend is a very good question.  The simple answer is that it’s all become just a bit too comfortable.  I want and need to shake things up a bit, to live out of my comfort zone for a while.  As Natali so graciously put it once, I have become a “squatter”.  I like the image; me with an over-sized belly hanging over my belt, sitting down plumply on my couch with a shit-eating grin, slow to move or do anything too hurriedly.  We always hear about the need to live a balanced life; well, for me, achieving balance has always seemed to be living at the extremes and then finding the happy middle. I won’t exercise for a long time and then I’ll start training for a marathon.  I’ll run the marathon and then buy a pack of cigarettes that same night (thanks for joining me on this one Kerwar).  I’ll smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and then I’ll quit for a couple of months.  I’ve squatted for a while, and now I’m going to be homeless for a while.  I don’t think either extreme is sustainable or healthy but I do think it’ll be good for me to experience both.

When I came back from my two months in Spain and Morocco this summer I just wanted to continue traveling, with the same small backpack and two changes of clothes I had.  It was a lifestyle I had never experienced where each day I decided what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go.  Everything I owned I was carrying on my back which made me very free and mobile.  Now that I’ve been back (and squatting) for a few months the urge to live like that has waned quite a bit.  But there’s still a part of me that wants to get back on that trail and really live on the edge of life a while longer before settling down in my next city.

While I’m traveling I realize I will not have a warm shower every morning or a warm bed every night, especially when I go trekking in the Himalayas where you can go days without taking a shower.  There will be a day (I just know there will be) where I’ll be stuck in a dinky, dirty bathroom engaged in heated stomach warfare and at that moment I’ll really miss my apartment back in SF and wonder wtf am I doing here?  And that’s a good thing.  It’s times like that that help me appreciate the comforts I have in my “normal” life and that help me learn to not take things for granted.

And wouldn’t you know it, the sun is starting to shine through today.  Of course it would happen just as I’m getting ready to leave.  It’s like it’s tempting me to squat just a bit longer.