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I’m Moving To San Francisco: Here’s How It Happened

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I’ve written a lot of articles about San Francisco, but I’ve never written anything with the knowledge that I was going to be a resident of the City. It always felt too ambitious, too unrealistic and most of all… too expensive. But things changed, and I’ve signed a lease for an apartment in San Francisco on the border between SOMA and the Mission District. I am now walking distance to taquerias in the Mission, coffee shops in Hayes Valley, theatres on Market Street and even Oracle Park where the Giants play.

Even now, with my name on the lease, it doesn’t feel real.

Even now, with my name on the lease, it doesn’t feel real. There’s still some fearful part of me  that I’m going to wake up in the room that I rented from my best friend and his girlfriend in Sacramento. 

What’s even stranger, is that it wasn’t that long ago. During the summer of 2020, I was stuck in Sacramento’s South Natomas neighborhood. The sky was orange with wildfire smoke, temperatures were hovering around 110 degrees and there wasn’t a vaccine for COVID-19, so when I was forced to go outside, there was a lingering anxiety that I would catch a killer virus no one really understood. 

I was anxious and severely depressed.

But despite this tumultuous time, seeds were being planted, I just didn’t recognize their significance until now. 

To my surprise, they said yes. 

Since I was spending so much time alone, I was reading and writing a lot. Instead of articles, I was focused more on poetry and short stories. I had been in talks with publishers before, but it never panned out. My work was too sporadic. I didn’t have a set writing schedule, I’d be struck by fleeting moments of inspiration and then they’d be gone or I’d become distracted with daily life, but daily life in what my understanding of it was prior to the pandemic didn’t exist anymore. 

So I wrote and I reached out to people online. 

I contacted a small publisher called Terran Empire Publishing. I was looking at my phone and saw that they were following me so I sent them a message and directly asked if they’d be interested in publishing me. 

To my surprise, they said yes. 

The problem was the world was still shut down, and I was still in Sacramento. 

The problem was the world was still shut down, and I was still in Sacramento. 

I knew for this to work, I needed to be back in the Bay, but I was broke, well in Sacramento, I was doing quite well for myself, but for the Bay I was broke. So were my friends. My best friend who had managed a successful cafe in Sonoma County was laid off due to the pandemic, and his girlfriend, whose apartment we were staying in, was attending Sac State and worked part time as a barista in Midtown (if you’re unfamiliar with Sacramento, Midtown is basically a sweatier Temescal.) 

I was working full-time at my bank job in Vacaville. A few weeks after I relocated from Vallejo to Sacramento, it was announced that we would be working from home. Sacramento was about 35 miles from Vacaville as opposed to it being 25 miles from Vallejo, so what initially began as a longer commute became no commute at all. My rent was $450 a month, I no longer needed to spend money on gas, but working from my bedroom increased my isolation, which only worsened my depression in an overall depressing year. 

But like I said earlier, seeds were being planted. And while being depressed sucked, it fueled my writing and memes. 

I was back to hearing gunshots and screeching tires almost every night

I saved 7k in the six months I lived in Sacramento which helped me get back to the Bay. It wasn’t anywhere glamorous. I was back in Vallejo.  My ex was also nice enough to let me, my best friend and his gf move in with her so that helped. I stayed at her place for a month and then rented a different room in Vallejo. I was back to hearing gunshots and screeching tires almost every night, but I was still close enough to SF and Oakland to promote my book once it came out so I was happy with it. It felt good to be home.

Shortly after moving out of my ex’s house for a second time, I received a call from Alex Mak, who’s basically Broke Ass Stuart’s second in command and we discussed a short lived weekly column. I fell off, but it worked out. I’m now an editor on this site. So that’s pretty fucking cool. 

While all of this was happening, I was talking with this girl who was from Moraga. She was funny. When I was in Sac she was attending UC Davis, but we never ended up kicking it because of the pandemic. 

However after moving back to the bay, we decided to go hiking in Vallejo. Not long after that, we were dating. 

Then I met Sasha, Sasha’s my roommate here at my place in Oakland. She was cool enough to let me rent a room. We had a few spats here and there, but we genuinely got along for the most part, and I hadn’t lived in Oakland since I was twelve years old, so a part of me was excited to be back. 

However, the financial security that Sacramento and Vallejo provided, Oakland did not. 

Oakland, despite being billed as an inexpensive alternative to San Francisco, was still really expensive. 

I was making less than 50k a year, and my gf’s ex worked in tech, which made me feel like shit. I was certainly taller than him. I’m also likely taller than you, but I still felt small. 

To make matters worse, my bank job in Vacaville notified me that I would have to report back into office. I lived in Oakland. The commute would be over 50 miles one way. I explained that I would need a pay raise. I knew the systems well and had helped people who were new to the job get acquainted. I was asked if I’d be interested in being a supervisor, and was told to apply. 

While pretty much feeling like I was assured the job, I was notified that because I didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree, I didn’t meet the qualifications… I called my girlfriend and started crying. I knew I was capable, but because I didn’t have a degree, I was rejected. Not long after that I quit my job. 

I had no safety net other than a small savings account.

I had no safety net other than a small savings account. I grew up poor. My mother still lives in low-income housing and my father lives in Texas and is terminally ill. I had no family to rely on and I was about to start delivering packages for Amazon. 

And then out of nowhere, the creator of Ricky Rat Comix called me and asked if I was interested in a tech job.

I said yes.

After two interviews with the company I was referred to, I got the job. It pays well and is fully remote.  My GF ended up getting a job in San Francisco at a local coffee shop.

Since my GF had to work in the city and I could technically work anywhere, we decided we might as well try to find a spot in San Francisco. After looking at apartments that were too expensive, too small or too shitty, we finally found a spot. 

A day after signing the lease, my publisher notified me that my E-book was ready and my physical copy wasn’t far behind.

My life isn’t perfect, but some fucking how, with a lot of help and a lot more luck, I have accomplished things that I didn’t think were possible less than two years ago. So, if you’re reading this and you’re going through some shit, complain all you want. I’ve built a meme empire( a memepire if you will) complaining about how absurd life in the Bay Area is, but never give up. 

Never give up.




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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is an Oakland-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground is available now!