Optimism in the most expensive place in the US

Calgary Stampede

I shared earlier this week that being in the Bay Area has made me severely dial back the money I spend on fun things. I am essentially in the lay-off process of all the fun excursions and adventures that are presented to me.

For this upcoming Thanksgiving, my S.O. and I thought about going on vacation instead of visiting family. That was when I realized: I’ve spent SO MUCH on little weekend trips, that I’m really not in a place to (responsibly) shell out $600+ for a flight plus all the money spent on actually being on vacation. We weren’t thinking cheap, either: we thought about Hawaii. I fell into the weirdest, most unsettling temporary depression about the realization that I shouldn’t go. I’d been really “living”: in the past 12 months, I’d been to Chicago, New York, Vegas (3x), Calgary, Seattle, Spokane, and back to Southern California a few times. I’d made the most of my local weekends, as well, staying in Sonoma and visiting coastal cities like Monterey. I dine out a LOT, and I pay hundreds for improv courses. On top of that, Amazon Prime is the best and also the worst, because it’s way too easy to spend money on a whim.

In sum, I’d been spending way too much. This budget was fine when my rent was 50% of its current total; now, I can still absolutely go on vacation, but I can’t be spending $1000+ on my average quick weekend trip, and take those weekend trips 2x per month, while also spending decent money locally.

The bigger toll of these weekends and mini-trips: I’m EXHAUSTED. The more I am away from my normal life, the more I spend money unnecessarily, the more I have to wake up at 4am to catch a 6am flight to get back to work on time, the more I create stress on myself. Why was I so unable to stand still for so long? I’m happy in my life. I have a sweet man at home (my cat) (and also my S.O., haha, hi honey). Why was I constantly in need of that next trip?

When I was in college, I never was able to spend money. I worked a part-time job at the main library on campus making just over minimum wage. I didn’t go anywhere for the weekend unless it was mostly free (family vacation homes, etc) and I knew not to spend money on the “nice to haves” for the most part. Somewhere in the years after college, a paradigm shift occurred, and I got to the point of buying anything I wanted (to a degree) and having the ability to not feel financial pain. The day before I left for Europe in 2013, I got a flat tire and ended up replacing multiple tires, and it didn’t make a bit of difference. I bought a really nice and expensive leather jacket in Italy without a flinch. I loved the idea of spending my money on experiences.

Now, I’ve realized, I’m entering the point in my life where I genuinely want to slow down. Jetting from place to place was exhilarating, and it’s something I won’t be able to do one day when I have children or a mortgage. I’ve been through much of Europe, sunbathed in Mexico (and, uh, bathed my insides with tequila), gotten rowdy at rodeos, spent a weekend at a music festival only to wake up early the next morning to go to Disneyland. But I have a really happy life right now, and it’s my time to put my weight into that, to build toward lifelong happiness. That might mean that for a while I won’t be quite as flush with airline miles and awesome Instagram posts. But you know what? I’m pretty darn excited. When I was leaning in to my ability to travel and to spend money, I was doing that because I was entirely independent. Now, there’s a life at home that’s just as good as a life spent seeing the world, and I don’t have to buy a plane ticket to get there.

2 thoughts on “Optimism in the most expensive place in the US

  1. I love how authentic and open you are about sharing the less than glam aspects of life. Unapologetically and bravely exploring issues that most people outwardly pretend they don’t have is part of the special sauce of your writing and part of the reason it’s so refreshing and enjoyable to read these posts.

    Your previous post mentioned how you’ve always relished the fact people recognize you for being a wise beyond your years but it’s really so true! A significant percentage of your peers are so deep into their hashtag blessed-social-peacocking approach to interacting with social media they don’t even see it!

    It brings me so much pleasure to see how genuinely happy and confident you are. You are such a beautiful, inspirational and unique human! Ahh! Couldn’t love you more unless I was gay!

  2. I love how authentic and open you are about sharing the less than glam aspects of life. Unapologetically and bravely exploring issues that most people outwardly pretend they don’t have is part of the special sauce of your writing and part of the reason it’s so refreshing and enjoyable to read these posts.

    Your previous post mentioned how you’ve always relished the fact people recognize you for being a wise beyond your years but it’s really so true! A significant percentage of your peers are so deep into their hashtag blessed-social-peacocking approach to interacting with social media they don’t even see it!

    It brings me so much pleasure to see how genuinely happy and confident you are. You are such a beautiful, inspirational and unique human! Ahh! Couldn’t love you more (unless I were gay)!

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