One thing I have not taken advantage of in this beautiful new city of mine is the opportunity to create a beautiful new identity. No one knows anything about me and I can be anything I want to be. I can explore aspects of myself never touched because part of my identity in Los Angeles was shaped by my friends’ expectations and by the limitations of the sprawling concrete city itself. In San Francisco no one knows who I am. In San Francisco alternate avenues of living are possible. In San Francisco there is a different culture, a different lifestyle, a different landscape.
I’d never realized just how much my identity was fostered by those around me. I’d moved here with very different intentions than what I’ve ended up with. I came here with a partner and what I thought was a mutual dream to begin our “adult” lives here. What I discovered is that it is difficult to maintain an adult relationship with a man who insists on remaining a boy.
And that is one of the few things that forms the foundation of who people meet when I introduce myself to them: I am from Los Angeles, a lot of my work revolves around dogs, and I am going through a breakup.
The rest can be whatever I want it to be, yet I am stuck clinging to the person I was. I feel abandoned by my friends when really their lives are simply continuing as they would and I am six hundred miles away. I wonder why my old methods are failing. I am trying to cram my Los Angeles life into San Francisco...and as you can imagine, LA’s wide breadth of shorelines and valleys won’t fit into SF’s 7x7 water-on-three-sides. I am letting myself be defined by what I lost by coming here instead of building on what I am gaining.
During other transitional times of my life I was younger and more flexible, or maybe I was just more ignorant and more self righteous. I was a picky eater -- now I’ll try anything. Back then I knew what I liked and I wore it emblazoned across my backpack. Now I say, “Well, I don’t know, I have to give it a shot or two before I can be certain.” If I knew half the things I thought I knew when I was a teenager I would know a lot more than I do now. Maybe when you are unsure it’s easier to get swept up in a riptide instead of standing fast and anchored and stubborn. Or maybe when you are younger your roots are not as deep, and you can be un-potted and planted anywhere. Maybe once you’ve started to find a certain soil, it’s more difficult to go, and I’m like one of LA’s many non-native palm trees...uprooted, transplanted, and dying.
Today it has been eight months since I threw half my things in my car and drove up here. That is almost a year. I’ve developed a routine, I know my way around, I can sense which stop the bus is coming up on without having to look. The weather nor the hills faze me. I’ve lost a bunch of weight, I always carry a little bit of cash with me. Time is no longer an excuse.
So I am going to start becoming the woman I’ve always fantasized about being. Broodingly beautiful, keenly intelligent, creative, frighteningly confident, graceful, focused, and outlandishly dressed. I’ve started to wear false eyelashes and going early to bars just to sit in a corner with a dark bitter beer and eye people with no intention of talking to anyone. One thing I’ve adopted is handing things to people with the delicacy of a butterfly. Proper posture. Laughing loudly. Bored flirtation. Defining my own rules for my own brand of femininity. Intense vulnerability. Always packing an overnight bag. Trying to please no one but myself. Pursuing the writing career I dreamed of as a little girl but got distracted from by boys, college, and fear. Living fearlessly.
Coco Chanel once said, “A woman who changes her hair is about to change her life.” I’ve always had streaks of pink in my hair, but this time I decided to be more bold. I went to see my fabulous stylist at MaduSalon and the only direction I gave is, “I want my hair to be like a unicorn mane.” I walked out with more pink in my hair than I’ve ever had before. Pink hair I can no longer tuck under a bun. Pink hair that reminds me every time I look in the mirror of the woman I want to be. This woman is fun, daring, and confident. This woman lives and loves in San Francisco. This woman is ready for anything. This is the foundation of the identity I am building here.
One of the greatest changes I am making as part of this new identity (which is actually the old one with improvements) is giving myself permission to dream of and achieve the life I want. Using Pinterest as my vision board, I am allowing myself to visualize what I desire. I swear the very moment I voiced my intentions to the world, the world responded with dazzling opportunities. I’ve gone out dancing in a gold sequin mini-skirt, made new friends, seen live music, been offered a new job, and in developing this enriched identity, feel more like myself than I have in years.
It’s been a long strange journey, but I am finally arriving.