When I catch up with people after a long time, one of the first questions I usually get asked is, “Are you still living in San Francisco?” To which I respond, “No, I actually live about a 40 minute drive south in Palo Alto. Have you heard of it?”
The next part of the conversation starts with a general acknowledgment and an, “Oh! What is there to do there?” I find this to be a completely fair question because Palo Alto is not known for its city splendor but instead, it’s really just an elevated college town. Seeing as I’m no longer in college, it’s fair to wonder how I spend my time living here.
New York was perfect for me when I was younger (because I’m soooo old now) when I had the stamina and desire to go out drinking to get drunk every night. LA is fun for all the glitter and glamour and the imaginary fame. I still enjoy visiting to fulfill my quota for “nights out.” But I’ve found my own more sustainable happiness here.
On weekdays, I’ll start mornings off with avocado toast made my way. I’ll use make the toast with sliced levain or sourdough from a local bakery (if you’re Bay Area based, I get my bread from the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market or Manresa Bakery). After toasting it, I’ll smear on some avocado and add some sriracha and Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Sauce. I’ll fry an egg in pesto or chili oil, place it on the toast, and top off with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Spice. I truly eat this almost every morning; it’s so tasty, flavorful, and nutritious. Since I started doing this, I vowed I’d never order avocado toast from a restaurant ever again. It’s overpriced, and I can make it better.
For the rest of the day on a weekday, I’m usually working from my cozy corner at home. I have one wall of art in front of me, which makes my corner a little more special, and am continuing to build my gallery. When I do task-based, mindless work, I’ll usually have some calming vlogs up. My favorite one these days is haegreendal. Her aesthetic is so simple, but her camera work is flawless.
In the evening, I’ll usually cook something. I’ve been working on more Korean recipes, but I also love scanning the NYT Cooking app for nice pastas and baked goods. After dinner, if I don’t have tennis, I’ll probably play a computer game and then I’ll always read and drink a calming, caffeine-free tea before bed. That’s my way of avoiding screen time up until actual sleep.
On weekends, if I’m not traveling somewhere, it’s usually an amalgamation of golf, tennis, farmers’ markets, dinners, gardening, writing, visiting SF (way more infrequently than you’d think) or cleaning and taking care of the apartment. This combination of activities is my life here. It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s extraordinarily lovely. My longest paragraph in this entry was about avocado toast, if that says anything.
But I’ve found more and more that, at least for me, happiness comes from the smallest and quietest of things. The louder things – the things you only really see on the literal surface, like brands, loud luxury – those feelings of satisfaction are so temporary. That sort of race seems neverending, competitive, and ultimately empty. But the small tasks and moments that might seem so unexciting – repotting a plant, baking pumpkin cinnamon rolls, emptying the laundry basket, buying fresh veggies from the farmers’ market, going on a run – those particles of happiness seem to fill a much more meaningful, long lasting space in my heart.
So…that’s my life here in the Bay Area, if you were curious. 🙂 How do you find your happiness?