Anyone who has spoken with me at all in the past month has heard me answer the "What are you doing during your break?" question with a very excited "I'm going to San Francisco!" Being a student now, I got that question a lot more than I ever did while working in the "real world" and so I had many opportunities to joyously share my plans with anyone who asked ("I'm going to San Francisco! For 11 days! I'm so excited!!!").
Keep that in mind as you read below...
Yesterday I woke up way too early and made my way to the T stop. I will interrupt my own story to say this: Boston is head and shoulders above Oakland or San Francisco in ease of airport access by public transportation. Not only is it easier, but it's also CHEAP! $1.25 got me from 3 blocks away from my house to the terminal - including the bus that shuttled me from the T stop to the terminal, while $4.10 got me from the terminal to about a mile from my final destination in Berkeley ($2.00 bus ride to the BART, then $2.10 BART ride). Score one for Beantown!
I arrived at the airport and saw a rediculously long line of people, as well as a few shorter ones. I stood in a short line, wondering why on earth people would choose that long line over my shorter one, until I heard a man telling people that if they were flying to Phoenix or Las Vegas, they had to be in the long line. It seems that though US Airways and America West merged months ago, they have not yet merged their computer systems, and so all the flights that were America West flights had to have their own special check-in.
Of course, I was flying through Phoenix, so I lugged my stuff over to the long line, where I stood for the next 50 minutes. When I reached the counter, the man looked at me and said, "Are you looking for trouble?" I must have looked as confused as I felt, because he pointed at my shirt. "You are wearing a Patriots shirt and you are going to Oakland. Are you looking for trouble?" I laughed, and he laughed, and he gave me my ticket and took my suitcase, and I raced off (also, keep this interaction in mind as you read below).
By the time I got through the check-in line, it was already 30 minutes before my flight's scheduled departure, and I still had not yet conquered security. I got through security, only to have a woman pull my bag out for extra screening (despite the careful, liquid-free packing of said backpack I had done the night before). I arrived at the gate pretty much when the plane was due to take off, but I was allowed on because even more people were behind me trying to make the flight too. One plane movie and three episodes of Arrested Development Season III later, I was on the ground in Phoenix.
I had a layover of about an hour in Phoenix, so I grabbed a salad and checked the monitors for my flight information. The flight to San Francisco was leaving at 2:20 from the gate right next to the one where I had landed, so I parked myself on a chair and watched another episode of Arrested Development while eating.
The boarding began, and I gathered my stuff and headed towards the gate. The woman called Zone 2 (my zone), and I stepped up and handed her my ticket. She ripped it, said "thank you" and gave me my portion back.
As I began to walk down toward the plane, I had a split-second thought: "What if it's raining when I land? Will I BART or will I splurge on a SuperShuttle?" What happened in my mind as I was thinking this thought was the formation of a clear picture of me having to make this decision, and that picture of me was at the Oakland Airport, and not in San Francisco.
I gasped and looked down at my ticket, and sure enough, it said that my destination was Oakland, and I knew for certain that I had just been let on a San Francisco plane. Luckily, I had not made it far past the ticket lady, and I turned back to tell her that I needed my ticket back. She handed it back to me and thanked me for noticing (Um... wait, isn't that her job?!).
I looked at my ticket: Departure time, 2:10pm. Great. It was already 2:00. I raced to the boards and found my real flight gate information and ran down to the other end of the terminal to find that they were also just beginning to board. Despite my best efforts at sabotaging the trip I had been so looking forward to, I made it onto the right plane.
Apparently, I had been talking about San Francisco so much leading up to the trip, my subconscious mind automatically looked for it instead of Oakland. It is especially funny, however, that I had a conversation with the man at the counter this morning who specifically mentioned Oakland, and yet I still hunted down the SF flight.
So the title of this post is due to the fact that I think that I might have a case of perpetual nostomania (also known as "the grass is always greener"). When I lived here, I had an overwhelming desire to return home to my East Coast roots. Every time I went back to visit, I would feel stronger and stronger ties pulling me there, and I would be beside myself with excitement at being among "my people" again.
But now, after 5 months in Boston, I haven't yet settled back into those east coast roots, and instead have found myself missing the west coast a lot. I miss the burritos and friends and ocean and the mountains, sure, but beyond that, there is just something different about the west coast mentality that I think I connect with more.
Don't all you East Coasters get yer feelings hurt. I'm sure that in the next year and a half in Boston, I'll rediscover my love for living in New England (not just visiting), and I'll end up settling there for the long haul. But for now, there's the knowledge that I always have a home and second family waiting for me out here in California.
My heart, for now, remains firmly planted in San Francisco.