Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Simulating annealing

So, Mikolaj, what the hell are you doing now?

Right now I'm on a train winding its way through the canyons of Colorado (and, as I finish this post, through the green fields of Iowa. Or possibly Illinois. Who knows). It's a week-long vacation via Chicago and Toronto, and also, as I'm telling people to simplify explanations, a move to New York.

But that isn't quite true.

Officially, this is a month-long visit to New York to get to know my new team, which I'm joining on the explicit understanding that though it isn't a perfect situation, and may not work out in the longer term, I may continue to reside in the Bay Area for now.

Unofficially, this is an experiment to help determine what I'm going to do with my next few years.

There have been a lot of things in life that I've delayed for imagining that they'd be more fun with the new face, since the surgery has seemed just around the corner for a few years now. I'm now out of excuses (and more importantly, out of enthusiasm for pushing that process any further, which relieves one of my fears), and experimenting with a new face will be easier in a new city.

But the basic problem is that I love living in the Bay Area, and I can say without reservation that my time there has constituted the best years of my life. This is obviously a good problem to have. What I don't know is how much of that is due to the city and people being simply amazing, and how much can be attributed to me having finally grown up enough to be able to take conscious control of my life and shape it into something that makes me happy.

If this month leaves me feeling like I can repeat the feat with New York, I'll probably just stay there (or maybe return for August and then officially move, given what I hear about the weather).

I'm giving it every opportunity to convince me, if only by making it just as hard to re-establish in San Francisco when I return. I've surrendered both leases, made no return travel arrangements, have 60 lbs of my favourite clothes with me and packed everything else into storage.

It's tempting to leave the option open to develop a serious case of bicoastal disorder, particularly with embellishments like setting up home inside a container or two that I have trucked from coast to coast whenever I decide to swap, but even having two rooms just 40 miles apart has proved to be monumentally inconvenient at times over the past year or two; I'm not sure I'm sufficiently excited about the idea to put up with it.

So it seems that it's time either for commitment (I'll try anything once, after all) or a definite lack thereof. If life in New York goes swimmingly, it'll be a clear sign that I'm still in an exploring phase, and will probably push on to London or Zurich in a year or two. If I just wind up pining for the bay despite everything New York has to offer, then it will be time to think about returning, settling down, nesting and assembling a 5-year jigsaw plan out of acquisition of green card, citizenship, home, car, stable city lifestyle, pets, and potentially eggs and co-parents.

As a friend who is embarking on a similar course for a year due to visa conditions said last weekend, the worst case outcome is finding out that San Francisco is just as amazing as you think it is. I like this kind of experiment.

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