Small Town Life in Our Big City.

Small Town Life in our Big City ( #sanfrancisco #sunset #california #lifeasusI’m a country boy.  No, really.  Up to the age of 17 I was raised in a small rural county of Colorado only miles from the Nebraska border.  My time was split between living on the family farm 16 miles from town and living in a “town” of maybe 50 people.  I was on a John Deere tractor in the field at the age of 10 and on a riding mower of the same John at age 7 or 8.  When not at school or helping with chores my time was spent roaming the creek that snaked through miles of ours and neighbor’s (that were like family) land.  I’d leave shortly after sunrise and obey the rule of being home by supper.  It’s a life that songs are written about and classic stories are told.  In fact, John Denver, and (mostly) his custom harvester uncle, frequented our Colorado flatland county of 4000 good people.


When my dad was motivated to move his family to the SF Bay Area, this junior in high school kicked and screamed all the way to California.  What the hell!?  I went from a high school of less than 120 students to an East Bay suburb high school of over 1500!  To say I was out of my element is an understatement, but let me just fast forward a many years to this conclusion and end this post introduction.

FACT.  Two best gifts my dad every gave me.  1) Raising me in rural America (thanks to mom too)   2)  Moving me to California just shy of becoming an adult.

Combining the work ethic and morals of growing up on and around a farm with the opportunities that were presented in the bay area have served me well.  It’s like being placed at the back of the heat of a race without anyone else knowing the souped up engine you have beneath the hood.  I found in the SF Bay area all that I needed in education, arts, business, recreation, and family.  And because I grew up knowing the value of planting and harvesting I have been fortunate to enjoy so many bushels of blessings in all aspects of my life.


But back to the country boy.  California has everything.  Cities, mountains, ocean, desert, and even rural farms.  You would think that a country boy would eventually make his way back to the…country.  No doubt.  I will always have an appreciation for the country life and escaping to it is less than an hour drive from the bay area.  But what you may not expect is the attraction to the other side of the spectrum…city life.  One of the advantages to living in the SF Bay area is the close proximity to San Francisco.  Alli and I have lived no more than 30 miles from SF the whole time we’ve been together and she grew up in a “small town” (CA def. under 25,000 pop.) in the East Bay.  A 20-40 minute drive across a bridge and any bay area resident can be in “The City.”  (Please refrain from calling it Frisco or San Fran.  THE City will do just fine.)  San Francisco is like none other offering everything any major US City offers in industry, tech, food, entertainment, culture, museums, and more.  Honestly, there isn’t anything NYC has that SF doesn’t except in a much…smaller…package.  Population of San Francisco is less than 850,000 compared to NYC of over 8 million AND SF is condensed to less than 49 square miles which is right at 100 times less the size of NYC.  It is the small town of metropolises and made of even smaller neighborhoods each having their own own central “main streets.”  Ironically, the only thing SF beats NYC in size wise is its main recreational park!  Seven hundred and eighty acres Central Park is dwarfed by Golden Gate Park’s 1,020 acres.


So it makes sense that two small town people would get married and move to San Francisco, right?  Well, not really.  But one of our greatest joint loves has always been sharing the city with each other and our family.  In the summer we escape the heat of the east bay and head across the bridge and the winter lights, atmosphere, theater, and shopping has always been a treat for us.  But mostly, we just like going to the city and hanging out in a neighborhood, attending a street festival or concert, or seeing a new museum exhibit.  Eyes always peeled for last minute stellar deals on boutique hotels would keep an overnight bag packed as there is nothing more charming than waking up in the city walking along the waterfront farmers market with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee in one hand and a chai latte in the other.  (Not the same person.)


We have longed for years to make the move, but the cost of living across that bridge can be a HUGE deterrent. (Actually, we did try the SF living for a short stent years ago, but it wasn’t the city that failed us…rather me failing the relationship at the time.)  Trading a three bedroom 2 bath 2000 sq ft home for something similar in the city is not an even trade…more like double.  So, we settled into suburbia and spent a good portion of weekends trekking across the bridge.  Then, one morning I woke up and turned to Alli and said, “What if we simplify our life to say two bedrooms and move to the city?”  Now, that may not seem like too big a deal, but keep in mind I whispered this idea to my bride when she was over 6 months pregnant with our second together and bringing the total to our blended family to a whopping five kids.  LOVE THEM ALL!  But we are a herd or gaggle at this point.  Granted, the older kids from my previous marriage are not with us full time, but they are part of our every days lives and one or more are always with us at least every other weekend.  However, decreasing our square footage expectations and eliminating the majority of crap that fills those squares would make the cost of city living comparable to the stretching room of the burbs!  So…we began to search!


Let’s just fast forward to today…tonight.  I’m sitting in a room intended to be a dining room which we now call a bonus room intended to use as an office and bedroom for older kids and visiting friends and family WHICH is currently filled with unpacked boxes BECAUSE we moved into a two bedroom flat in the Golden Gate Heights of the Inner Sunset District of the city…San Francisco… AND we are stressed out of our flipping minds BECAUSE we are trying to FINISH moving BEFORE Alli delivers our baby boy WITHIN the next SIX weeks AND we couldn’t be…happier.


Yes, our goal is to keep you entertained with our insanity.  Stay tuned as we answer so many of our own question on how to make this all happen.  But in closing this post I will answer the one question many family and friends and even you may be asking.


Why?  WHY?


Because we want this.  For us.  For our kids.  We want to be able to say we tried to make this work and never be able to say we never tried to make it happen.  There is no guarantee on how many tomorrow’s we have together, but we want to do our very best in making sure today is everything we want it to be.

We have left the “burbs” and are a LONG way from the farm, but already feeling very much at home in our new small town.


-life as eric

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  2 comments for “Small Town Life in Our Big City.

  1. Ed Neiman
    December 28, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Small Towns vs. Villages and Circles

    I have been thinking about this post for some time now and think what you define as “small town” is really a village. It reminded me of Hillary Clinton’s book several years ago where she states, “It takes a village to raise a child”. . Now, a small town can be, and usually is, a village. People bound together for support and synergy by the isolation from others by geography. Many think, and I believe may be correct, that this is the ultimate place to live, love, raise children and prosper. Where they may be incorrect is that it is not the only “village” available.

    I have lived, and even now do, in a neighborhood that is a village. These “villages” can be in rural areas, suburbs, or smack in the middle of a large city. People do not move into neighborhoods without thought and purpose. Like people seek like people and pinpoint geographic village areas are created.

    But my favorite “villages” are what I like to call “circles”. People brought together by common thoughts, desires, or habits. Some of my personal favorites are my circle that meets for coffee every morning and discusses the world and what is going on in their lives. Look for these, they are precious. I have seen “circles” in New York City where you know by looking they come together every day, at the same place, to support and love one another. In Rome, I saw a group of men, setting next to a 1000 year old fountain and you could just see that this happen routinely and was a definite “circle village”. Circles meet every day to ride bikes together, travel together by car or motorcycle, worship together, read a book together, or just discuss life.

    What makes these circles very special is that they are brought together not by being born into or moving into a small town or village but by personal choice. There are those that never find a village because they do not choose to do so. Sad. Strive always to find as many of these “circles” as possible

    Of course, the ultimate circle is, or should be, your family. I feel very sorry for people that don’t have, or take advantage of these circles.

    The reason these circles are so important, other than the obvious life support, is that circles overlap each other and like the olympic symbol form a chain of communication and strength that can not only support and nurture you personally but bring peace and harmony to the entire world.

    . . .

      December 28, 2014 at 8:34 am

      No wiser words than from the patriarch of the family!

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