Editor’s Column: Dating the East Coast

Four years ago today I was probably sitting at one of the outdoor tables on the senior quad at my high school in Atherton, California. It was probably between 65 and 75 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze. And I was probably hating it. When I was in high school, all I wanted was to leave and go to the East Coast. I wanted nothing more than to watch the leaves change during fall. To wear sweaters and boots and eat pumpkin bread and do “basic” fall activities (before the term basic even existed). I wanted a white Christmas and snow days because I thought real winters were adorable. 

Four years later here I am, sitting inside on a beautiful day, having severe anxiety because I am stuck in the library and feel guilty for wasting a nice day in a place where nice days are few and far between. I panic when I feel a crisp fall breeze or I see the leaves changing because it means that winter is coming and that I’m going to be cold for the next five months. And no longer do I find winters adorable. 

Based on what I just said, it shouldn’t come as a shock that I recently accepted a job in San Francisco. But my decision wasn’t that easy. For the last year or so, I thought almost every day about whether I want to move back to the Bay Area or stay in New York. I went back and forth almost hourly. I spent an amazing 10 weeks in New York City this summer to test the waters – as my friend put it, I was “dating” New York.  

I had so much fun living on the Lower East Side, exploring new neighborhoods, going to Smorgasburg almost every weekend and spending time with all the amazing friends I have made at Colgate (it’s no secret that the vast majority of Colgate grads end up living in the same few neighborhoods in NYC). But some days it would be too humid, or some days someone would be rude to me on the subway and I would say “Screw it, I’m moving back to the west coast.” I would see pictures of my high school friends living in San Francisco, and I would have serious FOMO, wondering why I couldn’t just be there with them where I felt like I belonged. It took me all summer, but I finally had to admit that the East Coast just isn’t a great fit. My family is on the West Coast. It’s where I am from. It will always be home. 

While deep down, I think I have known for a while that I would move back to California, it was one of the harder decisions I have made in the last four years. But the nagging feeling that “Annie’s East Coast Experiment” essentially failed hasn’t been easy to shake. It’s been tough to get the image out of my head of me returning to California, tail between my legs, because I couldn’t handle New York. What’s more, the thought of leaving the place that I have called home and leaving the friends with whom I have shared so many amazing memories gives me more anxiety than knowing that the remaining days of above-freezing temperatures are running thin. 

I am so glad I came to school here in (most of the time) beautiful Central New York. If I hadn’t come to Colgate, how would I know that snow is cute at first, but not when it’s two degrees out and it’s all dirty? How would I know how amazing the fall leaves look at sunset? How would I have met so many amazing people, people who I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life? Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely stoked that this is my last real winter. I can’t wait to move back to San Francisco, back to a familiar place where I will embark on a totally unfamiliar adventure called Real Life.  But it is comforting to know that I will always have a home on the East Coast.