Earlier this morning, I tweeted out something I had said to a friend last night at the Startup Denver Female Entrepreneurs meetup.
Vowed to @jonrrossi that I am never ever ever getting back together with #SF . #Denver has my heart completely!
I was talking about my upcoming trip to San Francisco to attend the LAUNCH Festival Mar. 4-6 and how I wanted to get TAOpivot‘s name out in San Francisco. Jon looked at me as if I had grown a second head: “Now WHY would you want to do that?”
No, I’d never think to move back to San Francisco. I’m visioning a branch of TAOpivot out there eventually, but I wouldn’t move headquarters from Denver at all.
Explaining where I’ve lived before to others as I meet them out here, people oftentimes seem confused as to why I’d choose Denver over San Francisco. And when I try to explain why I moved here, it’s even harder for me to articulate.
My four years spent in San Francisco were a mixed bucket. Mixed blessings. I moved out there right after college, bright-eyed and hopeful. I soon found the job market there highly competitive and, at every job I applied to, I felt I was an outsider coming in.
I was lucky to have a few friends who lived in the Bay Area to make my move a smoother transition; also have relatives out there, so that didn’t hurt either.
Still, during those four years, I always felt on the outside looking in. I had many wonderful experiences learning about life there; but I also learned that San Francisco wasn’t my place to establish my base. I didn’t feel a sense of community there.
And rent was just so damn expensive.
I fell in love with Denver in late 2008, when I traveled here on a whim to see Dir en grey‘s last concert on their US tour. The concert was advertised as being in Denver, but was actually at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood. I mulled over my decision earlier that week, wondering if I was being crazy for going to a place I’d never been to before and all by myself.
I went ahead and booked the tickets and flew out to Denver. I studied the RTD system and got around town via the buses. I noticed people were different in Denver: at the concert, the fans were actually nice to each other. We moshed a little and I accidentally hit someone during the concert; I apologized and the person said, “Oh, don’t worry about it.”
The previous week, when Dir en grey was in San Francisco, I was clawed in the face by another fan because I was taking “her” guitar pick that Die (one of the members) had thrown out. Also, the fans in SF just seemed more rabid and self-serving.
That was the only aspect I had noticed on that short trip to Denver, the kindness of strangers. But it was enough to move me past the tipping point and make me start looking at graduate programs in Denver. I wanted a ticket out of San Francisco after that; due to circumstances that came up in 2010, I had to stay longer in SF than I wanted to.
But in August 2011, I finally got to Denver as a resident. And I don’t regret the decision at all; in Denver, I have found the warmth I’d longed for in San Francisco. I have found the sunshine, the mix of urban, suburban, and even rural life in the surrounding areas outside of Denver proper. I have found my community and really feel at home here. I like going to events and running into people I recognize from other areas of my life; I like that small-town feeling I grew up with, without all the vicious cliques and gossip. I like being anonymous when I want to be in certain parts of the city.
Also, Denver’s cost of living is so much more affordable than San Francisco ever will be.
So, for the long story of it all, this is why I’ll always choose Denver over San Francisco. West Coast can have the fog lovers scratching by in close quarters; I’ll take Denver’s sunshine and happy people anytime.