My Dear San Francisco, I Love You More Than You Would Ever Know
I have always felt a little out of step. Whether it was my awkward adolescence, my days as a high school cheerleader (yes, really), or as a student at Cal Poly, I never quite felt completely accepted by the people around me.
Don’t get me wrong, the Gemini in me adapts well to different types of people (don’t worry I cringed too), so keeping up a social life was never difficult by any means. But I also never felt completely understood. All of my college friends love going to the beach and hiking and playing volleyball in the sun while listening to mainstream house music. I like wasting away in coffee shops listening to Blink 182 and pretending like baristas aren’t paid to be nice to me. See what I’m getting at?
San Francisco was the first place I didn’t have to pretend like I enjoyed what everyone else was doing. Laying in the park all afternoon to celebrate the appearance of the sun? Hell yeah. Doing the same thing when it’s cloudy and cold? HELL. YEAH. Going to bars that play 2000’s pop punk? I thought you’d never ask! There was a place for me here. I could be entirely me and not have to explain myself to anyone or avoid judgmental stares when I play “Teenage Dirtbag” at the pregame. I can walk anywhere (and when I can’t there’s always charmingly inconsistent MUNI). There’s incredible food everywhere. Instant access to nature without ever leaving the city. It truly is the most incredible city in the world. For me, at least. Not everyone was built for San Francisco, and if you are, then you know that’s true. It’s not an easy city to love. But it has my entire heart.
So that’s the happy ending. I love this place and never have to leave. Thanks for reading. Obviously not. Most of my life can be punctuated by shifts between the absolute happiest I’ve ever been and the most alone I’ve ever felt, with no in-between and no time to transition. The last time I can remember being my happiest was when I moved to San Francisco last June. I had never felt more myself, more motivated, or more at home. Growing up in Orange County, most of my life had been handed to me on a silver platter. But moving to San Francisco was the first thing I wanted to do entirely on my own and entirely for myself. And I fucking did it. But after my perfect three months of interning in SF, I had to return to the personal hell that is San Luis Obispo. Don’t get me wrong, there are thousands of much worse places to go to college, especially when I have absolutely incredible friends in little SLO-town. But it just wasn’t home for me anymore. I had truly (get ready for it) left my heart in San Francisco.
But here I am again, back in my happy place, going through an absolutely gut-wrenchingly difficult time in my life. A combination of completely unexpected life changes has taken over my headspace lately, all of which I had almost no control over. But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about how, despite all of that bullshit, San Francisco has been my constant, my rock, and the only thing no one can take away from me. It feels like my entire world has been crumbling in front of me, but at least I’ve be picking up the pieces in the city I love. Losing San Francisco is the one heartbreak I truly could never move on from. But in a world that changes so often and without consent, this city might really be the only thing I know will never leave me.
So thank you, San Francisco, for everything you do for me.
Thank you to The Mill for offering me a place to call my “office,” my daily dose of caffeine, and filling my desperate need for human interaction. Working from home is not as luxurious as it sounds, but you people made it better. Expect a new vinyl dropped off this week as my parting gift. I hope you like Shakira. And can we talk about hot baristas for a second? They’ll break your heart before you even have time to ask them about their ironic tattoos. Yeah, I can subtweet my ex, too.
Thank you to MUNI line 33 for being the prettiest bus route in the city. Did I mention I thrive on unpopular opinions?
Thank you to Dolores Park (overdone, I know) for being the only place I want to be on a sunny afternoon. There’s no one like you.
Thank you to Zeitgeist for being my second home and being the only bar in town that takes interest in my angsty song requests. Oh, and for introducing me to my new best friends (do you feel special Sam and Connor?). This summer wouldn’t be the same without them. I still haven’t forgiven you for taking the Modern Times IPA off your tap rotation, but I won’t let that get in the way of our relationship.
Thank you to Lands End for being my go-to spot when I feel lonely, emo, and want to listen to The Fray on repeat. You are my forever thinking spot. Thanks for making my problems feel small and letting me be in my ~*feels*~ all the time.
Thank you to my editors and co-workers for reminding me how much I love what I do. Being surrounded by supportive and creative individuals has been a beautiful part of my summer. You’ll never know how much happier the little moments made me. Thanks for loving bread as much as I do.
Most of all, thank you to my people. My sweet Amy, Allie, and Evelyn. It seems that these last few months would have been impossible if not for you. Thank you for not judging me for sleeping in until noon because I was too anxious to get myself out of bed. Thank you for listening to me complain about the same things over and over. Thank you for keeping me busy and getting me out of the house. Thank you for staying up with me until I stopped crying. Thank you for telling me it’s okay to drink whiskey when I’m sad… but only a little bit. Thank you for keeping me alive, especially in those brief moments when I didn’t want to be. And finally, thank you for learning every lyric to “Zombie” by The Cranberries. Don’t think I didn’t see all of you cringe every time I reached for the aux cord.
So here I am, at the end of another summer in San Francisco—one that was not nearly as sweet as the last. Next week, I have to leave my city once more and go back to San Luis Obispo to finish my last three months of college. But I seek comfort in knowing that I’ll be back, and for good this time. I love who I am, who I’ve become, and who I want to be in San Francisco. This is the first and only place that I have ever felt myself and at home. I have no doubts that I want to live here for the rest of my life, and that is an incredibly comforting feeling. The city constantly reminds me that no matter what changes, it will always be there and I will always be right where I want to be. Not a lot of people can say that at twenty-one. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Even though I’ll remember this summer as the one I found out that my aunt has cancer, my best friend wants to move away to Europe, and the love of my life “just isn’t in love with me anymore,” at least I have my city. So cheers to you, San Francisco. I will love you forever. Thanks for loving me back.
// Feature art by Taylor Becknell. Inline photos courtesy of Amanda Jacobi.