All I Know is that I Don’t Know

Many times when I was debating what I considered an important life decision, I’d hear that when the time came, I’d “just know” what was the right choice.

This proved to be extremely irritating advice, because I never “just knew.” When I toured college campuses during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, people said I’d “just know” which one would be the right place for me. But I didn’t know. I waited for some sort of sign, but eventually I just made what seemed to be the most sensible decision.

There are people who say that they “just knew” when they met the person they would spend their life with, but I don’t recall feeling much of anything when I met Mr. WholeHog in Drivers Ed other than irritation that the teacher made the class sit in alphabetical order by last name.

And yet, even though I’ve never had much of a gut instinct, I sometimes imagine that I will visit a new place and “just know” that it’s where I should live.

It’s not that I don’t love San Francisco. But since I’ve spent all of my 30 years in Northern California, how can I can be sure that San Francisco is the right place for me?

I’m guilty of ridiculing people from high school who never left the town where they grew up, but how far, really, have I gone? I was born in the valley, moved to the foothills and went to college on the coast. I’ve pretty much been here ever since. My sister, on the other hand, went to college in Southern California, and after graduating, she went cross country.

My friend Amy is now in Maryland (where we visited her last month). She and her husband have lived in Montana, on the California coast and now they’re on the outskirts of DC. And they’ve seemed to be happy in every place.

Because I haven’t moved much, I try to use travel as a way to mentally check places off my Could I Live Here? List. But spending a few days in a new city assumes that I’ll “just know” that it’s right for me. And past experience has shown that this isn’t how I make decisions.

After all, I didn’t just know I’d love SF when I moved here. I thought it was just a good place to get my bearings after college. I didn’t expect it to feel so much like home.

In all likelihood, even though I’m happy in San Francisco, I’ll have to leave it eventually if we ever expect to own a home or have children. But I tell myself that we don’t have to move yet, so why worry? And I delude myself by thinking that when it’s time to go, I’ll just know.


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