Falling in Love: San Francisco Edition

My very San Francisco day in a nutshell

My very San Francisco day in a nutshell

Oh me, oh my, hot damn. Guys, it’s been 2 months since I’ve updated anything on this blog. Sad face. I could sit here and make excuses (but I’m busy, when I get home I’m tired, writing means thinking, I didn’t wannnnnnnna), but really I don’t have a good one. The honest truth? I just didn’t feel like it. I’ve been trying to get my footing in a new city, getting adjusted to a new job, getting used to how shockingly cold my apartment is.

But it’s a new year and I’m determined to make as many resolutions as possible ’cause then at least one of them’s gotta stick, right? And among my many resolutions is a fixed determination not to abandon the blog. I like the act of making myself write, and I like being able to update people on what all I’m up to, especially now that I’m living across the country from almost all of my best friends.

Which brings me to the topic at hand–this strange city I’m living in on this strange coast. I’m the first to admit that it’s taken me a while to adjust to San Francisco, and that I’m a little hesitant to embrace it. I’ve already given myself over body and soul to New England and her bold seasons, to the vibrant whir of London life, to the buzz and hum of New York streets. Do I really have it in my to give myself fully to a new city, and one with such terrible public transit at that?

If I’m being honest, I don’t want to have to bike everywhere, to dodge this terrible city traffic. I don’t want to have a jacket with me at all times, even in the summer. I certainly don’t want to have to tune in at 4pm to catch a Celtics game, and to stay late at the office so I don’t miss the very end. And because of those things I haven’t embraced the city as fully as I could. I love the parks and the food and the attitude, but guess what? I loved those on the East Coast too! And I think at times theĀ  join-our-quirky-and-unique-city-but-don’t-you-dare-dislike-any-of-it-and-you-better-be-quirky-and-unique attitude gets tiresome.

But like I said, new year! Today I set out to explore more of the area around me in an attempt to embrace this odd city as my own. I’m living in Haight-Ashbury right now and I wanted to get beyond the pipe shops and vintage stores of Haight St to see what else is around me. I set out for Buena Vista Park on what can only be described as the most beautiful and mild January day I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Buena Vista doesn’t seem to have the same name cred as Golden Gate or Dolores parks, but it does boast a beautiful view for those willing to walk some stairs and hills.

After about five minutes in the park I claimed it as my own oasis. Fresh tree smell. Dogs everywhere. A place to sunbathe while reading a book (in Januray!). I was in heaven. And as I sat on top of the hill feeling the grass on my neck and the sun on my arms I think I finally got it: this is why people love San Francisco. Or at least why I will love San Francisco.

I spent a good hour and a half in the park, moving from there to Alamo Square where I once again sat myself down and read in the warmth of the January sun. A quick stroll over to Hayes Valley, and then I made my way back to my neighborhood, basking in the glow of a great day. It turns out all it took was some nice weather and a few trees to sell me on San Francisco.

I don’t know how other people have come to love the cities they’re in, particularly for those of you who didn’t always call that city “home.” I’d be interested in knowing if other East Coast transplants have had the same reservations that I have. And I still wonder if the constant refrains of “You’ll never want to leave San Francisco” will ever start to feel true. But at least for now I can honestly say that I’m starting to fall for this city on the bay.*

*Full disclosure: even writing “the bay” made me think of Narragansett bay. Apparently you can take the girl out of Rhode Island but you can’t take the quahog out of the girl..

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Coming Home

Prospect Park in Providence, RI

Home

Let me start by making one thing clear: I know I’m lucky. I’m lucky the home I grew up in is still my home. I’m lucky my parents haven’t moved. I’m lucky they let me play this waiting game in the comfort of my home.

But homecomings are never what you expect, and this homecoming feels particularly foreign.

I’m wandering around the town I grew up in with no job, no plans, no idea where I’m going. It’s the first summer where September doesn’t mean anything definitive. I’m back in a small city that feels smaller every day.

My fractured sidewalks have been paved over, yet the streets are more potholed than ever. Every street corner is a scraped knee and a broken tooth, a water bottle of purloined liquor, a heavy conversation in heavier humidity, a love lost. The smell of the neighbor’s charcoal grill and fresh tree clippings: everything and nothing has changed.

There’s no sign of the unruly boys come to shed their shirts and inhibitions (as if they ever had any). No hope of a kiss in the street as the party continues uncompromisingly upstairs. Us restless girls can waste all the gas we want driving the dark streets and still no new mysteries will be unveiled. And everywhere I go I glimpse the ghosts of reassuring faces.

Which is not to say that I’m feeling so dejected or sorry-for-myself as I sound. These days I’m happy to have a cold beer and good conversation.

All this stumbling over words and waxing nostalgic is just to say that it’s just now hitting me that home will never be the place it was. Now home is fitful nights of sleep, dreaming of all the usual suspects in the usual places. In dreams we move like pins on paper, carrying out tactical missions from wars past; our military game is to see what might have been. But now it’s time for what will be instead.

Here’s to hoping I find new streets to call my own and can lay this town’s memories to rest.

(Image Source: http://www.museumofthecity.org/exhibit/providencerhode-island)