Often times you don’t choose San Francisco, she chooses you. For some it happens the first time they come to The City, while for others it’s the 51st time. Regardless, there’s always a point when suddenly you realize, “I’m going to live here”, and then you go about making that a reality. I’ve spent the past seven years (with a lot of on and a lot of off) in this fine, fine city that I’m lucky enough to say chose me.
Growing up in San Diego, I visited SF a few times as a kid, but it wasn’t until I was in college, in Santa Cruz, that I first felt seduced. I had come up in the summer of 2002 to do an internship at Bill Graham Presents. It was the summer between my junior and senior year, and my friend Mani and I were sharing a room (a converted living room with no actual door) in a building at the corner of Haight and Central. We were both freshly 21, with very little money, a whole lotta heart, and a willingness to give ourselves to the City so she could do with us what she wanted. And she certainly did.
A lot happened that summer. I saw scores of great shows and I read a lot of books. I explored thoroughfares and alleyways, learning the difference between avenues and streets. I made a few true friends and a hell of a lot of acquaintances. I fell in love for the first time and I saw a dead body up close and personal for the first time too. I thought I found a career path and later learned I was wrong. I also thought I’d forever stay the person I was then. I was wrong about that as well. But more than anything else, the most significant thing that happened to me that summer was that San Francisco chose me.
By the end of that summer I knew I’d end up living here again. It also helped that the girl who I’d fallen for was here, so I’d have ample reason to come up and visit my future home. Not that I really needed any reason.
Sometimes it feels like a lifetime has passed since I first felt San Francisco’s pull. Various women and friends have come in and out of my life and I’ve spent much of my time over the past few years living out of a bag, sometimes half way around the world. Plus I’ve fallen in love once again; San Francisco is a wonderful city in which to be in love. But of all the things that have within me and without me, one thing has remained constant; my affection and admiration for this city. No matter where I am in the world, I’m always proudest when I say San Francisco is my home and I see someone’s eyes light up. It’s then that I know The City has chosen that person too.
Stuart is the author of Broke-Ass Stuart's Guide to Living in San Francisco. He has also written a NYC version. If you enjoy shit talking and cheap stuff, make sure to visit him at www.brokeassstuart.com.