We made the decision to quit our jobs, live off our savings, and ultimately leave San Francisco. I had great co-workers, a great boss, but I was underpaid and ultimately didn’t believe in the company’s products. I was too drained to focus much on graphic design work on week nights and overwhelmed with chores on the weekends. I thought of getting a new job, but in order to be truly fulfilled I knew I needed to break away and start my own thing. Sadly, that meant leaving our beloved rent controlled apartment and being priced out of San Francisco for the foreseeable future. We decided to move somewhere cheaper, divide our nest egg by 36 (our monthly budget), and see what we could accomplish during that time — hopefully by the end of it, making enough money to keep doing what we want to do.
craigslist became my best friend. I scoured apartment listings in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Ann Arbor, trying to get a sense of what our new life would be like.
“So… what do you think about getting married?”
After almost 11 years of friendship, 9 years of bestfriendship (yes, that’s a word now), 5 years as a couple, and 4 years of living together, Cory and I decided to make it legal. We set the date for the big day to be April 2nd, which was the day we met in 2002. We decided to keep things small, simple, and secret. I hadn’t dreamed of a big wedding since I was about 11 (to one of the Hanson brothers, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or Devon Sawa), we both wanted a small ceremony with nice clothes and delicious food. So I started planning…
Dad visited San Francisco for the second time. We somehow managed to not divulge our secret (“by the way, we’re getting married in 10 days!”), but perhaps that’s because we were so busy. We visited Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate Park, and walked the Golden Gate Bridge. His trip was a blur of endless walking and gorging on food at Little Star Pizza, Pork Store Cafe, Shanghai Dumpling King, Chile Pies and Ice Cream, and House of Prime Rib.
Cory and I married at San Francisco City Hall, with two dear friends as our witnesses and photographers. Dad was also in attendance. We told the news to our parents a couple days before. We gave them such a short notice because we didn’t want them to make a fuss about coming to San Francisco. My dad called later that night to say “bought a ticket, see you tomorrow”. Everything went exactly as I’d hoped. French fries, pizza, ice cream, pasta, and cocktails… all on my wedding day. We spent the night at Chateau Tivoli, a bed and breakfast in Alamo Square (home of the “Full House houses”) and ate deep fried french toast the next morning. Because America.
We became tourists in our own city. Night at the Castro Theater, a morning spent whale watching out to the Farallon Islands (no whales, sadly), trip to the Asian Art Museum, and lots and lots of walking tours.
My 28th birthday was spent at the Mission Dolores Church & Cemetery, San Francisco’s oldest building. I tracked down the graves of some famous characters in San Francisco history, like William Leidesdorff, the first black American millionaire and Yankee Sullivan, an Irish bare-knucked fighter and boxer who ended his life in a very sad way. We also went to the Neptune Society Columbarium, the largest repository of human remains in the city. We found Harvey Milk, Jerry Juhl (a Muppeteer), and Chet Helms, the father of the Summer of Love. A bit macabre to spend the day of your birth among the dead, but learning about the history of an area makes me feel closer to it. Plus, I’ll always be a teenage goth at heart.
We left our jobs and celebrated our freedom by eating ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery the next work day. We squeezed in tourists activities when we could, like hiking in Land’s End and I had high tea with friends at the Palace Hotel. Our lives mostly centered around bubble wrap and cardboard boxes. Craigslist was no longer a best friend, but more of a frenemy as people tried to nickel and dime possessions that were a part of my life for years. We sold and donated about half of our belongings and the cat was not pleased about the 8 hour trip to Michigan.
Cory’s 30th birthday was spent riding a model T Ford at Greenfield Village. Later in the month, we headed to Chicago for a few days to take in the sights, visit the Oriental Institute, eat an absurd amount of food, and see The Book of Mormon. We also spent a few days in Indiana, showering love on two adorable corgis.
I caught the canning bug. Pickled cabbage, zucchini and squash relish, jalapeno jelly, salsa, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, grape jam, tomato jam, and froze several batches of swiss chard and kale. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I also read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series. My life in August revolved around mason jars, pectin, and books.
We moved into our new place on what felt like one of the hottest weekends of the summer. Despite no air conditioning, we managed to unpack everything within a few days. Just as it seemed everything was in order, we were off to Indiana for a few days to attend a lovely wedding. After returning to Ann Arbor, we started our new routines and I dove back into designing. I cursed myself for moving back to a part of the country that has real weather. We explored Ann Arbor a bit before it got too cold, including a trip to the Natural History Museum.
Etsy shop opened its doors. Once I made my first sale I did a happy dance around the apartment, even though the item sold was only for $3. Definitely the most exciting $3 I’ve earned. I spent a lot of time trying to master frugal eating on the cheap, while still avoiding big box stores like Wal*Mart. Pioneer Woman’s Pinto Beans and Cornbread is such a great pantry dish. Don’t skip the lard. Lard makes everything better.
As the temperatures dropped, I still stubbornly clung to wearing dresses everyday, even though I looked and felt ridiculous. Then I discovered fleece-lined leggings and haven’t had to wear pants since. By chance, I ran into a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in several years and wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. I wasn’t wearing weather-appropriate leggings then, but she didn’t say anything about me looking ridiculous, thankfully.
Etsy shop picked up in November and really took off in December. Managed to get through what seemed like a never ending stream of e-mails for Christmas orders, but I really did love every minute of it. 2013 marked some big changes in my life. Next year, I’m looking forward to expanding my business, eating lots of bread, packing up our belongings again, and making some more memories.
Happy New Year, all!