So about a month ago, I had mentioned I was taking a 11 day business trip out to San Francisco. I really havenít had an opportunity to blog about it since Iíve been back, so Iíll mesh my thoughts on the trip with the topic of this blog.
To foreword this, I always had this certain immense fascination with California for a long time growing up. Something about the state always just really interested me, and I always felt like I would absolutely love to live there. Maybe it was the large amount of game development in the state. Maybe it was the warm and mild weather. Maybe it was because California was a state thriving on technology. In short, California seemed to hit all of my interests, I figured I would love living there.
Not so much anymore...
Iíve only been to California twice, once to Los Angeles and just recently to San Francisco, all my trips being business related. The high and glorious expectations I had turned out to be way more wrong than I could have ever imagined. When I traveled to Los Angeles, I was immediately turned off by the smog. Seriously, even coming in to the airport on the plane, the skies went from crystal clear to a giant mass of gray nasty smoke as we breached the city boundaries. My phone was constantly telling me the weather was ďsunnyĒ, but looking up at the sky only showed a giant gray screen of smog with not an ounce of sunlight poking through. Furthermore, I felt the city to be pretty rundown, and there were many homeless people loitering around the city. Housing looked cramped, and man was it expensive, something like $1200 for small studio apartments... I went expecting to see the glorious and exciting city from my imagination, only to be presented with the mundane and beaten down reality that the city was.
My recent trip to San Francisco was not much different. After hearing many good things from friends and family that have visited San Francisco, I was hoping for the best. Google map searches of the city showed a city that looked WAY too crowded for me, but whatever, I was being paid to go out here, and no better time than now to check the city out for myself.
San Francisco was probably worse than Los Angeles!
I was in the Market Street area, and good lord, it was just way too urban for me. Nature and green foliage was nonexistent, and the entire city was just this concrete jungle from coast to coast. There were tons of homeless people, and even more questionable people in between (druggies for example) I had about a 15 minute walk to work each morning, and there was not one day I didnít encounter at least 5-10 crazy people on the way...
Besides the crazy busyness of the city though, I would say one of the biggest things that turned me off about it was just how dirty and beaten down the city looked. Some might call it eclectic, but to me, it was just a mess of mismatched buildings and apartments. Houses, businesses, and buildings were cramped right next to each other, with not as much as an inch in between, and not one building would be the same color. Next to high scale apartment buildings were run down little apartments that were literally falling apart and homeless people sleeping outside. I was terribly upset about the terrible amount of litter and trash in the city as well. It was everywhere. Last but not least, mystery ďdroppingsĒ on sidewalks led to daily games of ďIs is human or dog?Ē
I came up with an interesting way to describe how I felt about the city. Do you know how some video games might have a plot where humans have sapped the Earth of all itís natural resources, and Earth went nearly extinct and now civilization is trying to begin all over again in a broken world? San Francisco was that city for me. A city that looked abused and run down like no where else I have ever been. A city littered with homeless people, trash, and mismatched buildings. A city where the earthís natural resources have been mis-used and depleted. I even equate it another way, saying the city reminded me of a post apocalyptic city, being repopulated by the remaining people. Yes, the buildings seemed that broken down to me. It was really depressing.
So two trips to California, and at this point I feel like I never want to live there. All the high expectations I had turned out to be very wrong. Plus, cost of living was stupidly high, taxes are terrible, and things were much more busy and cramped than I could ever handle. Maybe itís just me, Iím a suburban guy. Grew up in the suburbs, went to school in a suburban town, and currently living in yet another suburban town. I like nature, I like a homely neighborhood feel, and I like having some privacy and space in my home. California just doesnít seem to have that. A funny joke I heard recently, ď7 out of 8 Americans are already in CaliforniaĒ, doesnít seem far from the truth after seeing how busy and cramped everything was with my own two eyes.
On one hand, I feel some closure about the whole thing. For years I thought I would love to live there, but was just never sure. After being in two major cities, I really doubt that California is the place for me. It does upset me a bit considering how much opportunity for game development the state offers, San Francisco and Los Angeles being the #1 and #2 biggest cities for game development, with several other CA cities following up on the list. However, for the time being, I feel good that I had the opportunity to visit the state and clear my mind on where I truly want to end up with my career and with my life. I feel better knowing Iím probably not making a mistake choosing to pursue my life in another state, even if it may be more difficult. I look forward to having a good life, career, and family, and I was to be somewhere I truly love calling home.
So needless to say, I didnít enjoy my trip to San Francisco. I really enjoyed being at work with my company team, but the hours in between work hours were pretty dreadful. Regardless, I am very glad I had the opportunity to go. So now Iíll turn it over to you guys? Do I have the wrong impression of the state? How do you CAGs that live in California like the state you call home? I donít know, just doesnít seem like the right place for me. Thanks for reading, and looking forward to hearing your thoughts and comments!