The precise date, you’re not sure, but it definitely just happened. No wonder you feel so restless. This is the longest you have ever stayed in one place since your collegiate years. Imagine (or really, remember) that:
- You spend school years in New Haven, CT, and summers in Princeton, NJ, and bus and fly to and fro states for races during all times of the year. A sport rules your life.
- You graduate from college in May of 2006 and promptly move to Princeton, NJ where you train until the end of January of 2007. (8 months)
- You spend two months in Chula Vista, CA at the Olympic Training Center (2 months)
- In March of 2007, you quit rowing and high tail it to Boston, MA with a truck load full of things–these things… books, rowing gear, a chair, memories, study supplies, kitchen stuff, computer and speakers, printer, things, and things, and things. An entire pickup truck FULL of things. You spend one month in Boston, crashing at your wife’s place, trying to figure out a backup plan. (1 month)
- You end up going back to Seattle, WA, your hometown, for the spring and summer months, and pick up a job in construction. After a traumatic illness which has you bed-ridden for months, you are well enough to walk again. (5 months
- You move to Boston, MA and commence work as a fitness trainer in September of 2007. After a series of more unfortunate events (identity theft, divorce, homelessness, substance abuse, and more) you give away half your things, buy a backpack and a one-way ticket to Europe. (10 months)
- Fred Mertz Meets Europe, changing location every few weeks, having a 7-month residency in Ireland, and then changing location every few days. (20 months)
- Fred Mertz Meets America. A two-month stay in Woburn, MA, followed by a 6 week road trip across the United States, and then a 4-month stay in Seattle, WA. (8 months)
- Fred Mertz’ Triumphant Return. More travel in Europe. (10 months)
- And now… One Year In America.
You landed in San Francisco around this date, one year ago, to see Alexis for a handful of days before flying to Seattle in order to spend one month at home, catching up with your family, and spending time with your dying father. You also began preparing avidly for the collapse of the U.S. Dollar. Your friends and family members balked a little at your enthusiasm–your recommendations to buy physical gold and silver, seeds, weapons, food, security devices, backup power sources, and the lot. You childhood fantasy of surviving on an island and your love of dystopic scenarios coalesced into a wonderful game in life.
You moved to San Francisco in the first days of September, agonized over the two weeks it took you to obtain a job at a premier financial district gym with an insanely high pay rate, and moved in with your new roommate (and “client”) Gabe, a young, successful, generous, and eccentric man. You occupied a modest space on the mezzanine of his penthouse apartment, which was shared with numerous characters, couch surfers, airbnbers, and his little black cat, Odysseus.
Gabe is larger than life. His enthusiasm is always great, his advice direct and ambitious, and his heart enormous. He balances multiple projects at once, travels every weekend, spends time with the people he loves, and spreads his influence where he can. He is a co-author of a book all about the ins and outs of the new shared economy, in which access is preferable to ownership; he takes a utilitarian view on space, assets, and more.
Gabe introduced you to Chelsea and Alex, his co-authors. Then there was John, your new roommate, recently arrived from Madison, and a friend of Chelsea’s. Through these four individuals, along with the myriad of people with whom you became acquainted through them, you were exposed to more creative and forward-thinking discussion than you could have ever have anticipated. They were entrepreneurs, film makers, programmers, and co-working workers. They were a beautiful sample of part of what makes San Francisco so unique and ingenious. San Francisco! The city of day drinking, where tech professionals go to work in jeans and flip flops, make six figures, and just seem so happy and relaxed. It is a bubble.
There is more to San Francisco than the forward-thinking-entrepreneurial-start-up-bubble culture. There’s the free and easy, sexually liberal aspect, which includes Pride, Folsom Street Fair, The Armory, Power Exchange, Mission Control, and everything–god, every thing in between that you didn’t experience. You had a “growth spurt,” as you like to call it, and explain to others that San Francisco has taught you that you really aren’t kinky. You are old-fashioned sentimental, often weird and hyper, but not kinky.
But Kink is in its own category. You are way more comfortable being yourself here than in any other city, and since you left Crunch and shifted over to Gold’s Gym in SOMA, you have to check yourself when you enter more “professional” work environments. Some things must be uttered at lower volumes.
Who are principle characters of this one-year story?
-Your Ex. Ex lover, ex travel partner, ex best-friend. The ex to end all Exes. It’s hard to describe your feelings about her–will they come across as angry and indignant, sorrowful, or understanding? “Don’t be cruel. But be honest. It’s your life,” you are advised. Your ex taught you not to engage in fights you cannot win. She taught you that drama originates in your life from excessive tolerance. The quality of love between two people must be mutually understood and agreed upon; this agreement cannot be forced.
-Gabe, of course. For all the aforementioned reasons. And John, your other roommate–pleasant, intelligent, clear-thinking, and prone to drunken biking. He taught you odd things pertaining to fitness and weight management–in a field he called “bio hacking.” He taught you that half a stick of butter blended into coffee is a great idea–coffee that may as well be laced with amphetamines. There were Chelsea, and Alex, upon whom you have eavesdropped (not intentionally, due to the ceilings in the penthouse) and absorbed a language and concepts about the shared economy.
– Diane, your mentor and first independently-made friend in the city, who showed you parts of San Francisco you would never have seen otherwise. Over the months, she taught you active isolated stretching, a form of therapy/body work that would later be your bread and butter and pave the was to specialization in corrective exercise. Diane has light, unique energy about her. Sometimes zen, sometimes frenetic, but never disingenuous. Spending time with Diane was like being inside an aquarium. Serene, contained, colorful, timeless, other-worldly–even though sometimes it’s hard to be under water.
– Chris, your long-term-pen-pal-turned-gym-husband. Oddly enough, before you’d left Seattle, you’d received an email from a stranger who happened to be a member of the gym at which you’d been working. Unable to meet before your departure, the two of you remained close correspondents up until your return to the States. You met in person, finally, with unprecedented knowledge of one another. He remained in Seattle when you moved to San Francisco to obtain a job that he found for you. A couple months later, through an act of job karma, you found him a lead to a job in San Francisco. He began working just one block from your gym and started training with you. It wasn’t until a few months later that you lost your job with Crunch and had to find a new one at Gold’s. After coercing Chris to join Gold’s so that he could continue to train with you, his company dissolved the very next day. Within a week, he was working at a new company, right across the street from Gold’s. The two of you are “gym married,” as you like to say. More than gym married, Chris has been your closest and most loyal friend since your return, and has been an essential soundboard as you navigated the last 12 months.
-Kerrye. Difficult to describe. Client-turned-friend during troubling winter months. Perhaps more frugal than you are. Getting her to talk about herself was like pulling teeth. But you found a little more balance in your life, and owe her many thanks for putting up with your incessant ramblings, stories, and pressure as you threw back lots of whiskey.
-Katie. You cannot possibly bundle up the impact here. You’ll have to save it. It is Katie around which you have planned your next move.