Beautiful, sunny, warm climate year round with beaches and palm trees galore? Some of the most beautiful sunset spots, hiking, the most and best Mexican food you could ever imagine in your life? A place where anything goes, people don’t judge you for your clothes or hair or expensive bags. A place where people literally just go with the flow & love & enjoy life. Don’t want to wear make up today? Didn’t shave? Who cares as there’s a 50% chance the woman next to you on the trolley or at the bar for lunch didn’t either. Haha! Sounds a little like paradise. To me, anyways. Sounds like a place where you spend a couple thousand dollars on to vacation to for a week. Then fly back to your shit weather and the real world where you turn back into that work zombie and do your 50+hour a week job[s] to start saving for that next trip.
Welcome to San Diego, my friends. Where I am so very proud to say, I now live!
I grew up in a tiny town in NW Pennsylvania called Corry. There’s like 6,600 people currently still living there. It’s about 30 miles south of [literally] one of the snowiest cities in the country, Erie, PA.
I guess you could say I was a pretty fortunate kid growing up. For most of my younger years my family was lucky enough to go on a trip to Florida every now and again. Walt Disney World is still to this day one of my absolute favorite places on the planet. SO many memories. We would usually go in December. Then as I got into high school, one of my best friends’ family was nice enough to invite me to go down to stay for a week or so in the spring time with them a few years in a row. What a blast we would have!
After high school I got a job with a corporate restaurant and graduated from Cosmetology school. Basically did nothing but work and drink. I was living the ultimate college life, had all the pretty friends, good looking boyfriends, went to all the coolest places, had the nicest clothes, always had my hair done. But who was I kidding I wasn’t going to college, heck I never even took my state boards for Cosmetology! My friends and I lived the good life for sure and none of us lacked a thing…material wise.
The snow and cold finally did me in in 2007, so goodbye Erie, PA and onto Raleigh, NC. I had my first Christmas there in 2007 and it was 75, sunny and we actually grilled out that day. I vowed I’d never move north. Within a year and a half however, I met my future ex husband [ha!] who joined the Navy and we were stationed in Virginia Beach. [Wait hold up, did somebody say beach?!! I’m in!] Moved there in the spring and thought, OMG I live in paradise. I then vowed I’d never not live on the ocean again. Hmm. Then winter came. And kept getting worse every year. Ha! Shit follows me was the ongoing joke! Anyways the marriage didn’t last. We were divorced and I soon found my myself working 3 jobs, drinking my ass off, and not accomplishing much of anything but stashing $$ away. But for what?!
I then took my first trip back down to Florida in about 8 years. Buddy of mine and his uncle, who are pilots, and I flew one of their small planes down into Naples. It was my first time there as an adult. It was even better than I remembered in the past; with the exception of Disney of course! And I only dreamed to someday end up in such a beautiful place as that.
I made it back to Virginia and soon came to realize I was not happy anymore, just going through the motions day to day. I had a beautiful home, had bought something very nice for the first time in my life [my dream car], had a couple amazing jobs, friends and acquaintances galore, but yet I was so lonely. [and cold!!] I only had a few friends that I would ever actually hang with. Everybody else was work friends or clients or my bartenders, or it seemed anyone I got close to, got deployed or stationed elsewhere. That being said, my best guy friend got stationed to San Diego Spring 2013. He had basically been deployed 5 out of the last 5 and a half years, so was very much looking forward to some shore duty out there. From the day he found out he asked me to go with him. I laughed, “My mom would kill the both of us!” I’d tell him. From the moment he arrived in SoCal, he raved about it. Oh, how he loved it. But it was all in one ear and out the other for me. Whenever I thought of California, all I could see was celebrity crap and dollar signs and Hollywood and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The OC, everything I saw on tv. And that is definitely NOT my style!
About 6 months later after a trip to Scotland fell through, I had $$ from that flight I didn’t take to use towards whatever I wanted. One of my buddies was flying out to San Diego to see our friend in a few weeks and said I should use part of the Scotland ticket to go. Two weeks later, I was in sunny San Diego, where it was mid November and 80 degrees. We took a trolley tour which started in historic “Old Towne” and it went all through the city, downtown, and then we were about to cross over that famous Coronado Bridge. My buddy, who was sitting behind me, and taps me on the shoulder and says, “Are you ready to fall in love?”. I said, “Oh, shut up!!”, and he said, “I mean with San Diego!!!”. Then, I looked to my left and saw the 2nd largest US Naval base in the world, and just past that? MEXICO! [I LOVE MEXICO!!!] Then you look to your right, sailboats galore! Mini cruise ships! Then the San Diego downtown city skyline. HOLY SHIT. This dude lives here?!? I actually remember somebody telling me, “Any day you don’t work in San Diego is like a vacation.” I didn’t quite believe that, but I was now up for the challenge & it was literally over from there. Within 5 months, I went back to Virginia, tossed Florida out the window, and packed up my home and my fur babies. I barely made it through another terrible winter, when boom, I left all 3 jobs, and at the end of April one of my best girlfriends and I packed up a 16 foot Penske truck, had my car put onto a car port, that was being towed behind the truck, and we were off to drive cross country for the next week or so, stopping where ever, whenever we wanted. We made a little vacation out of it and thank God that I had her, because I would not have been able to do it alone!
Sometime here in the midst of these few months [P.S., this “best friend” guy who asked “Was I ready to fall in love” has now become the boyfriend [oww oww! Haha!]], we were now moving in together. I got a job within four days of settling into our apartment and slowly started becoming familiar with the area. OMG, what isn’t there to do here?! There are miles among miles of beach, I can get a coffee and sit on the cliffs in La Jolla with the wild sea lions, there is the most fabulous Farmer’s Market in a different area of the city every single day, the coolest hiking trails, surfing, shopping, most beautiful golf courses, wine country is literally 35 miles north and has 40 gorgeous wineries! Mexico is a hop, skip, and jump across the border, LA is a two hour drive, Palm Springs is under three hours, and Vegas is under five! And don’t even get me started on the food, amazing night life, & the most incredible craft cocktails you can imagine. I mean where else can you snowboard or ski and the surf in the ocean in the same damn day?! Get outta here!
But with all that being said, you know the thing I like the best? The people and their way of life. Like I said before, anything goes here. And that was one of the first reasons the boyfriend told me why I’d love it. “It’s just so you, and so chill, and everyone is so caring and friendly.” Well let me tell you something, my hustle ‘n bustle ‘n race-to-get-everywhere-first ‘n be the first to do this or that…those days are over. I now work one job. It’s full time, but instead of working another couple hours here or there, or trying to book the next gig to bartend, I’m simply enjoying life.
California has actually changed the person I am today; the stories of people’s lives and the open mindedness of everybody. There’s hippies and business people, tourists and sandwich makers. Bartenders, baristas, clerks at your local supermarket, dog walkers. NOBODY GIVES A DAMN. Everybody treats everyone equally. People are genuinely HAPPY! Even the homeless, when you pass them on the street, will occasionally give you a “Good morning!” And they expect nothing in return. [Well, not all of them!] WHERE AM I?! Haha! San Diego has taught me there is more to life than working and living up to all these stupid expectations you think you need to fulfill for everybody else. Do what makes you happy and so freaking be it.
My ex-husband used to say to me all the time, “So you just want to be a bartender the rest of your life??” It used to infuriate me, because I’d think SO WHAT if that’s all I want to do?! I love it! I have met the most incredible people and heard the most amazing stories and I have learned so much being a bartender. It’s even how I got my day job that I loved so much in Virginia! What’s so wrong with that? I don’t know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life, career wise. Do I have ideas? Of course I do! Maybe I will be a bartender the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll open up my own bar someday. Maybe I’ll have the doggie day care I’ve always wanted, tied in with a small rescue program. Who knows? Who cares?! I’m not making any drastic moves until I know for sure and have the finances to 100% pursue anything, so until then, so be it. And San Diego is A-OK with that and you know what? 2 years ago I wasn’t able to say this, but that’s mighty fine with me as well!Add to favorites