Thursday, August 29, 2013

San Francisco So Far

I know it’s been forever since my last blog post and after several nagging complaints, I feel compelled to apologize to all my avid readers:

Sorry, mom.

Cool, now that we got that covered…

I moved to San Francisco a month back and dove right into it, as if time was limited. And who knows, perhaps time is limited – I’ve traveled and lived, lived and not stayed, stayed and not resided in many, many places. Will San Francisco be the exception? Perhaps. But it’s likely I’ll find myself wayfaring to another frontier soon, so I plan to experience all that the Bay Area has to offer while my wanderlust still remains dormant. 

Ever since I moved to SF, I’ve become a veritable alcoholic. Out of six weekends, there was only one weekend I didn’t drink. And that was because I had hiked for more than eighteen miles, unintentionally, and ended up being in so much pain that I had to be carried back into my apartment. I couldn’t move for days thereafter. Here’s to being in shape!

Here’s the thing about San Francisco. It’s the place to be if you want to find yourself. When I first decided to move here, everybody who knew me was surprised by my decision. Was it a new job? No. Was it for grad school? No. Was it for a guy? No. I was doing this for the same reasons I do many things in my life: just because.

Now, San Francisco isn’t paradise on earth. It really isn’t. Not many people realize how sketchy SF can be. Every time I walk out of my apartment, there is always a faint smell of homelessness and pee in the air. You will see people dressed up, waiting in line, trying to get into a club on one side of the street. You will see crack addicts, prostitutes and your neighbor peeing in a corner on the other side of the street. You are skeptical about all of this. You look at the squashed rat on the road and wonder why you left a spacious two-bedroom apartment in the east coast and moved to a tiny room in the west. You can’t tell the expression of the rat—what with the tire tracks running across its flattened frame—but you know it’s mocking you. Roadkill feels sorry for you.

But, somehow, you come to love SF: it offers up people, food, drinks, music and laughter in a combination that is solely unique to the city. My favorite story is of my friend who I met when I first moved into the city. She had moved for her boyfriend all the way from the east coast only to end up going through a painful breakup. It was the end of a three year relationship and the beginning of a life in an unknown city. Surely, it was both exciting and nerve-wracking? She sat in a public bus muddling through conflicting emotions when a homeless person got up from the seat across from her, walked up to her, and spat on her face. As spit trickled down her face, she questioned her move, too. She questioned what compelled her to give up what she has known all her life and, instead, navigate through the unknown. Her mom in the east coast begged her to come back. But for whatever reason, she stayed.

She did, and so did I. Because when you’re far away from your closest friends and family, the only place that you can embrace and make your own is San Francisco. You will walk into cafes and people will smile, say hi and start up a conversation. You will walk into a bar and the person sitting next to you will want to high-five you for no reason at all and then proceed to show you their tattoos. You will walk through the streets and a homeless guy will say “Hey Beautiful, give me a fist pump!” You will smile back and then run like hell in the opposite direction. You will find people who have given up the rat race and nurtured their dreams into start-up reality. You will be comforted, welcomed, inspired and humbled by absolute strangers. And you will begin to learn who you really are.
View from Coit Tower.

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