In a few days, I’ll be driving up to take up my new residence in San Francisco, and relocating Sweet Napa for the second time.
So… why am I moving? I think that the short answer is: as much as I’ve tried, I can’t conceive of a future for myself in LA. I think that BonBonBar as it is would best flourish as a storefront supplemented with web orders, but the thought of anchoring myself to a storefront in LA and driving through LA traffic to get there every day depressed me more than it excited me. I was able to work practically non-stop on BonBonBar because there was little else I wanted to do in LA — or at least, little else I wanted to do that would justify so much time in traffic and smog. And after Chad and I broke up in June, it seemed like a good time to call a hiatus and choose a new place to live. It was tempting to stay through the holidays given that this year has been so busy so far, but then Valentine’s Day would be right around the corner, and then Easter, and then… and then… another year would go by in limbo. Once I started to think about how nice — how pretty normal — it would be to reside in a place where I would think about living rather than leaving, it was hard to stop.
I kept telling people that “I just don’t want to live in a big city anymore.” I went to Google Maps quite a few times just to zoom out on a map of the US. I could live anywhere I wanted. Anywhere! I tried to imagine what life would be like here or there. I considered new places and familiar places. I thought a lot about Montana (Bozeman!). And Wyoming. And giving in to my perpetual whim to live in a cabin in Maine. I thought about flying back up to Seattle for the second time ever to check it out more in depth. Or maybe New York or New Jersey, to be closer to my family.
I actually flew to the Rockies to scout out Utah and Colorado ski areas. I particularly loved the beauty of Aspen, but I thought that my wintertime ski antics would be cramped by the very real, very snowy winter… which would mean limited local, fresh food that I could work with.
That sunk in. It’s somewhat arbitrary that California happens to be an enormous state with so many different climates so it’s easy for us claim such an awe-inspiring variety of “local” food year-round, but still… there’s a lot of good food grown around here that is best fresh — and can be used to great effect in sweets.
So, yes. Seriously. I came to California for the film industry in 2002, and I stayed for the citrus in 2009.
I thought about Berkeley. I drove up to check it out more, but the possibility of something happening in SF and having to commute made me start to think about SF more. When I saw that there are apartments to rent in the Presidio in San Francisco, I felt like I’d found the perfect compromise between rural and urban life — I would get to live in national park while living in a city. So… here goes!
Though don’t get me wrong — I know that that there’s so much great food across the country. But the thought of turning 30 soon and moving to an entirely new — and possibly remote — place alone with a business based on fresh ingredients to think of was a slightly scary one. So it made a difference that I already know Northern California and its people a bit. SF seems so full of energy and fun, and it just thrills me to drive around Marin, Sonoma, and Napa. And there’s also still so much that I don’t know about the area, and I get exciting just thinking about having the opportunity to explore more. Of course, I am very familiar with the sometimes harsh realities of Bay Area traffic, but I don’t think that it’s as bad.
I really do hate to turn my back in LA because I think it’s often unfairly criticized. When I moved back to LA in 2007 from Napa, I was ambivalent about the city. I spent the better part of my first year in our apartment researching and testing recipes for BonBonBar, partially as a way to avoid the people and congestion that I’d left in 2005 after working in the film industry. But as I experimented with different ingredients, I realized that the food and farmers markets here are fantastic. I learned so much from the Santa Monica Farmers Market; it was like a second culinary school. And when I launched the business and when I started selling at farmers markets myself, I met so many amazing people who have influenced me for the better and who I’ll never forget. So, in a sad-but-happy way, I can say that when I leave LA this time, I’ll miss the people.
I honestly am not sure what will happen with BonBonBar yet. I’ve been so touched by how many people have taken the company to heart and have gone so far out of their way to help it/me that I feel awful about putting it on hold; I can’t help feeling like I’ve let them down. But I think I need to know more about conditions in SF before I make any decisions about restarting, and since I can’t know more until I move up there, I’ll have to wait and see. I know I’m curious…