Discussion: Keeping the Spark Alive – How to Stay in Love with your City
There’s a reason people say that relationships take work. It’s easy to fall in love in the beginning – when everything is new and interesting. You’re not yet burdened with partnership responsibilities or compromise and all those quirks that you’re discovering are just so cute! But let’s be honest: quirks don’t stay cute in long term relationships. Butterflies die, sparks fade, and the relationship plateaus.
And the same can happen in your relationship with your city. You met, you explored, you laughed, and you fell in love. But sometimes your long-term trajectory in one city can become a drag. So what is a gal to do when she wants to put down roots and carve out a life in a city that she’s come to love? How do you stay put in a place for any considerable length of time without losing your love for it?
We’ve compiled a list of tips to keep the spark alive, and stay in love with your city.
KELLY: Re-visit your old favorites
Of course it’s great to keep it fresh and try new things, but when you’re going the distance with your city and the relationship starts to lose it’s luster, take it back to the days of courtship. Remember when you first realized that you were ready to drop the “L” word with Sacramento? Was it over a pitcher of sangria at Paesano’s or on $1 hot dog night at a River Cat’s game? Maybe it was over Sunday morning bike rides on the American River Bike Trail or walking your dog under the blessed shade of Sacramento’s trees during hot summer afternoons. Whatever it was, it made your relationship with the city magical. Make it a tradition or just make it a point to re-visit when you need to awaken the butterflies.
AMY T: Break out of your routine
I often find that Sacramento isn’t boring, I am. It’s easy to go to the same coffee shops and restaurants, run the same routes and do the same thing over and over like I’m living some kind of NorCal Groundhog Day. I often find that trying a new place or breaking out of my routine allows me to see Sacramento through different eyes. The city is so much more than the 20 square blocks that make up midtown. Break out of that routine, you won’t be sorry!
CHANTEL E: Be the Tour Guide
A couple of Summers ago my husband and I decided to get an exchange student . Our German exchange student was at first a little confused that Sacramento didn’t have all the dazzle that television often portrays of California. I was determined to show her our city and all it’s delights despite the lack of beaches and big city lifestyle. I took her everywhere that I thought was fun, interesting or cool and I have to admit that playing tour guide made me visit places that I never made time for because it was “touristy”. If you are bored of your city just invite a friend or family member from out of town and show them the all the spots that make this place fantastic! Be the cheerleader for this place and I promise people will see it for all that it is!
LEIA: Leave It
I didn’t even realize I liked Sacramento until I left it. In the past several years I’ve lived in Portland, Los Angles and Silicon Valley. I never missed Sacramento. But I always ended up coming back to restart, save money and move somewhere else. It was an embarrassing home base, otherwise known as the place my parents lived.
I officially moved to the grid just over a year ago. I thought it was a layover between me and San Francisco. It was tentative.
But then, a few months ago, I took a long trip to South America. I returned on a Tuesday afternoon in spring, all I could see was green, all I could smell was coffee and the sun and the caffeine and the colors gave me a feeling of closure. This was my city. This was home. And I loved that feeling.
They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I say, you don’t realize how much you love your city until you leave it. So leave it. And then come back.
KEARSTEN S: Get involved
Looking for way to fall in love with your city? Get involved. It’s election season and there are more than a few local candidates and campaigns to get involved with. This will give you the opportunity to learn more a candidate or issue and also get you involved with others that feel the same way. This may also give you an opportunity to get out and talk to the community about issues you care about.
If local politics aren’t for you, get involved with a local charity. There are a number of Sacramento charities that are looking for volunteers. You can help feed the hungry at Loaves and Fishes; help out at the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services; clean up the American River with the American River Parkway Foundation; hang out with some four-legged friends at Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary. If none of these sound good, check out volunteermatch.org to find something more your style. Giving back and getting involved in the city you love will take your affection to the next level.
CHELSEA I: Walk
I know this sounds like an obvious idea, but we get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives we sometimes forget to savor what is around us every day. I’ve worked downtown for nearly seven years and lived here for almost four, and I still stumble upon parks, restaurants, boutiques and historic buildings I have never actually “seen” before.
I’ve taken to walking a lot more lately for this exact reason (ok, ok, and to save a little money on my Lyft tab); walking allows you to look around and see what this city has to offer. Just last week walking to brunch, we found an adorable little community garden that I’m sure I’ve driven by a million times but never noticed. Small businesses with minimal advertising budgets sometimes get overlooked by the “big dogs” who can afford a PR person. A walk down a new block can open your eyes to those little gems, which could become your new favorite hangout or shopping spot.
The added bonuses? Lowered carbon footprint, decreased gas bills, perhaps a trim down of your waistline, and you skip the hassle of finding a parking spot. It’s a win all around.
LISA M: Get off the Grid
When people ask me where in Sacramento I live, and I say across from Cal Expo, the automatic reply is almost always….”Wow that’s so far!!!” In reality it is one exit up business-80. So my advice to you is: GET OFF THE GRID PEOPLE.
I was a victim of ‘gridlock’ at one time myself. From 2008 to 2012 I lived on the grid and never ventured farther than the fabulous forty’s. But there is more to Sacramento than the Grid.
In August I moved to the Arden area and a whole new part of Sacramento opened up to me. All the great restaurants and shops on Fair Oaks Blvd; the fancy- pants Pavilions shopping center which makes me feel like I’m back in my hometown of San Rafael. And being within walking distance of the Arden Mall, Petco, and Best Buy is incredibly convenient.
It has given me a whole new appreciation for just how lucky we are to live in a city that has everything we need in about a 10-15 minute radius. And when I miss midtown, its always just one exit away.
RACHEL S: Leave
They say if you love something let it go and if it comes back… No, that’s not right. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Yes. That’s what I meant to say originally. And it’s so true.
I was born and raised in Sacramento and I vow to never live anywhere else for as long as I live.* But I haven’t always loved it and in fact I hated it so much that I moved away twice. What I do know is, moving away from my safety net taught me a lot about responsibility and self-reliance. Something that’s very hard to accomplish when you live in the same place your whole life with your family and friends at an arm’s length. So, i’m glad I left. But frankly, after four years at Arizona State I was ready for rehab. I mean, I was ready to come back – I missed my family, my dog…and lawns.
A few years later, the opportunity to transfer to our firm’s Orange County office came up and I jumped on it. Hello Ryan Atwood! I mean, I was lying on the beach on my lunch breaks, partying on Newport Coast and eating mounds of goat cheese every night in my apartment by the Sea**. It was amazing. But it wasn’t Sacramento. I missed home. I missed my friends. It was then that I realized that everything I will ever need is right here on the patio of Low Brau.
*But I would totally move to Chicago if the opportunity presented itself
** I was in Irvine, miles from the Ocean