The Apex (where the Mission, Upper Market, and Hayes Valley meet)
I was destined to live in San Francisco based on one of the earliest stories I remember from my childhood. My dad and his brother-in-law took a day trip to the city when I was a toddler, and when reporting to my mom about their activities of the afternoon, decided to freak her out.
“What did you do?” she asked upon their return, and my dad added in at the end of a list of tourist attractions: “We hung the baby over the side of the Golden Gate Bridge to see if she liked it.”
Needless to say, they weren’t allowed to be out of eyesight of my mom for a very long time after that whenever I and a car were involved.
I’m a Bay Area kid, and the glamour of San Francisco was always there while I was growing up in San Jose. My gravitation to this city became stronger when I was in high school, and my interest was starting to pique in seeing live music. I wasn’t allowed to go to shows by myself, and some of my best teenage memories were of going to concerts with my dad, getting pulled over by the Great American Music Hall for going the wrong way on a one-way street and feigning apologies for being from “out of town.”
Seven different addresses, 15 roommates, eight jobs, and seven years living in this city, and the allure of this gorgeous haven continues to resonate something fierce with me. I still possess a sense of wonder when I walk down streets en route to attend events, meet friends, or with an intent to explore. I get to live here, here in a mecca of art, of music, of culture that is unparallel to and unlike many places in the country. It is a complete privilege that my addresses have had the zip code they did and do. Sure, maybe I haven’t shaken off that naivety, that romanticized bubble of awe about something new and being enamored with it, from when I first moved to this metropolis at the tender age of 18 to attend college. But if that’s the case, I don’t ever want to lose that feeling. San Francisco makes my heart swell with such sharp joy, it’s been yet to be duplicated by anywhere or anyone else in how much it permeates to my core.
It’s not to say we are without problems here. They’re present. We’re not perfect and we’re quick to point out our struggles with crime, with the high cost of living, with glitches in our politics and public transportation and our mayor’s hair. But one of the things I am always so struck by is the camaraderie that seems to be exchanged between citizens of this place. We’re not hesitant to list our issues, but we’re also able to look at the broader picture and appreciate what we do have. Our attitudes are positive and encouraging, and we’re open to talk about the possibilities.
I live in San Francisco because it is me. I often joke it is the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. This city has seen my share of drunken nights, wails of laughter, and hair colors too numerous to even know at this point. I always ride Muni with my attention focused out the window and not on my phone or music apparatus. My memories are marked on the corners of the city, at cafes and parks and places of symbolic nature, and they flood back to me every time I pass them. I’m reminded of the beers I’ve consumed, the hugs initiated, the feelings I felt while in that moment, and it makes me smile.
The city has also seen me devastated from heartbreak and failure and disappointment, true. It is inevitable that pain is factored into a relationship. But San Francisco has led me to a circle of friends I regard as family, people I hold with such respect and honor and trust it would be so, so very hard to imagine life without them. It’s brought me to careers I am passionate about, and provided opportunities to pursue. It’s offered an abundance of distractions, of fulfillments, and of empowerment. I always talk about the city when I travel and how much it’s impacted not only the world, but little ol’ me, too. Sometimes I am moved to tears about how much this place means to me, how much pride and adoration I have for a city that reminds me that the radiance of people and humanity can truly thrive when it’s cultivated. There is a place for everyone in San Francisco, and for me, mine is just the right fit.
Besides – if I were to ever move away, I won’t be able to say the phrase “Dude, San Francisco is small” anymore.