By Erin McInerney
About 8.5 years ago this thoroughbred Brooklyn girl took a cue from Colonial America (probably the only cue I’d ever take from them), and packed up her bags and headed west on the pursuit of happiness, settling in sunny San Diego. Old Brooklyn would call me a traitor. But as I’ve learned over the years, personal happiness and peace of mind come numero uno.
So what’s it like being a Brooklynite in Surf City?
Well, swap out the 24-hour bagel store for the taco shop, the subway for about four trolley lines, add four seasons of sunshine, CVS and the grocery store have beer, wine and liquor 24/7 (point San Diego), but no corner store bodega (BK gets that one). Weed is a lifestyle, and not your stereotypical stoners who don’t get off the couch after getting blown, people need it to function here. To sleep, to concentrate, and I can’t blame them – it’s homegrown. Not the brown shake I remember getting from the neighborhood kid who sold.
A little background about the Brooklyn I grew up in. I’m from the Mill Basin area, while def not the coolest – most people outside the borough have no clue where that is, (behind Kings Plaza/ the other side of Flatbush – if I had a dollar for everytime I had to explain that), it WAS a good place to raise a family. But, so not my style. I took every opportunity to get out of there.
I went to high school in Bensonhurst and chilled there in my teens, attended Brooklyn College and graduated from St. Francis College – where I spent a lot of time in that downtown Brooklyn area and as much time in the city as humanly possible. Going out, taking jobs and internships there, shopping, spending days off there. In my late teens and early twenties, we’d go out in Bay Ridge on one night of the weekend and the city the other.
Before Brooklyn became so “cool,” when I was very young, Williamsburg and Redhook were “bad neighborhoods” and DUMBO was all textiles and factories. After college, I took a job in Wall Street and that’s when I got the best of the city and Brooklyn. I got to spend so much time exploring and I really loved it.
Begs the question, so why leave?
You know that Blink 182 song, “Nobody Likes You When You’re 23…”? (Ironically, they are from the Rancho Penasquitos area of San Diego.) That’s when I got the itch. I am a Sagittarius and by nature, we are always seeking adventure, the meaning of life, a love of nature and are a mutable bunch. I always knew there was more out there for me.
So, I had to break the Old Brooklyn curse of marrying your second boyfriend ever, move out of my parent’s (who were separating at the time) house, get my damn driver’s license and see why everyone in San Diego was so happy! Deep down, I longed to be happy too and I knew I was different than everyone in Mill Basin. I loved yoga, the beach, sunny skies, partying – all my friends were trying to settle down.
Adding to that was a very rough winter weather-wise in NYC in 2009-2010 and I was climbing out my front window because I couldn’t open my door with all the snow and running to the bus to catch the train, turning a normally hour-and-twenty-minute commute into hours, being late to work every day and feeling like it was midnight coming home.
I’d say one of the main things I love about San Diego is how accepting everyone is and that is not the Old Brooklyn I grew up in. People don’t see color out here, partying is not taboo – in fact, Peter Pan Syndrome is major, you’re not expected to get married and settle down right after college or even have a career nailed down.
Many of the people I made friends with over the years work in the industry; waiters, bartenders and they make bank. Everyone is on their own, no one lives at home with mommy. People are very leisurely, that took some getting used to, but they are so free and really seem to enjoy the best of life.
I went to my first real rave out here and dressed the part, the beach at noon on a Tuesday wasted in January, many music festivals, many bottomless mimosa brunches…and for all the partying people do, everyone is physically active and pretty healthy. I, for sure, got into the best and healthiest shape of my life. I guess you kind of have to be when it’s beach weather all year round.
The famous question now, will you ever move back?
Life is different now. I am a mom to an incredible little boy and about a month away from my due date with his baby brother. My boyfriend, (nope not husband – sorry not sorry) is an SD native. But at this point, raising babies, it’s very hard to be away from my own family. And even though I physically left Brooklyn, all my best friends are still there. But I think the overall quality of life is better in San Diego. I do miss home dearly, and real pizza – that will never change. I guess my answer to that is, you never know what the future holds.
You can take the girl out of Brooklyn… you know the rest.
Erin McInerney is a native Brooklynite living in San Diego, CA for the past eight years. She and her boyfriend Ryan have two sons, Bryson and Christian. She spends her time modern mommying and practicing and preaching wellness. Look for her blog coming soon!