In the years I lived in San Francisco, and the many years before moving to the city when I commuted up and down the Peninsula, I became a confident, aggressive driver. I used to love driving through San Francisco, knowing its one-way streets and shortcuts, sailing up Franklin and down Gough through their timed stoplight flows. But somehow, over time, navigating on busy streets and across intersections with lots of pedestrians has made me incredibly anxious. Looking for parking in crowded areas also stresses me out — and this is coming from someone who, like George Costanza, loved finding and snagging the best parking spots. (New anxieties aside, I still have mad parallel parking skills.)
Moving further north to Sonoma County was a great move, and I can’t believe it took me this long to discover that I prefer this part of Northern California. My family remains south, so I make the two-hour drive for regular visits, through San Francisco and down the Peninsula. One thing I notice from all these drives is how much calmer I become on my way back, once I cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head into Marin County, which is the county in between San Francisco and Sonoma.
I know there are asshole drivers everywhere — I won’t start on the ridiculously big pickup trucks all over Sonoma that tail you like they’re going to plow over you. But as a whole, the roads up here are less crowded, and the drivers are more considerate. I’ve driven through San Francisco so many times over the past few years and seem to curse every car around me — somehow, we’re all so fucking important and need to be somewhere and no longer pay attention to anyone else around us.
So, yeah. I enjoy living up here. Out of the Bay Area. Away from the crowds. Where you can see the stars and hear different kinds of owls and watch lizards do push-ups on logs and spot bunnies nibbling on grass in the garden. When we were planning our move and building our little house in 2014, I honestly didn’t know how I’d acclimate to a rural area, but after nine months of living in a small town, I love it. It’s just what I’ve needed, and it feels like home.
All images taken with an iPhone 5s.