I no longer live in San Francisco and this baby is from the archives but you never read it, it’s so old. I’m so glad I read it because that is what I needed. Now in Chicago, in the middle of winter, I still feel that thrill and wonder and the click-clack of all the gears working together, when I just know I’m where I am supposed to be. But there are other days too. Those days are hard and long. But I go to bed and sleep. When I wake up, it is a new day.
It’s worth it to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to choose adventure every single day, even when it’s hard.
Do you know that feeling, when everything seems to be going right, all the chips are falling into place, and you use every cliché in a sentence? No, but really. Today at work, everything went smoothly. It’s a super busy time for us so the energy is electric. I don’t have time to really think and so I go on auto pilot, only it’s auto pilot on speed. I have to crank it out. I have to. I cannot fail. In the middle of it all, I ran to a doctor’s appointment that normally would never be scheduled during this time of the year but I’d been on the waiting list forever. I walked through the gorgeous city and enjoyed the San Francisco September Summer, cutting through Union Square. I felt home. This place is mine now. It is a part of me.
But not every day is like that.
Some days are so hard it’s like trudging through mud. San Francisco does not feel like home all the time. It feels like a place very far from my friends and family. I haven’t explored the way I want to explore. Cab to real grocery store. Cab back home. Then cook? Right. Most nights, I go to bed before my friends and family (including my three year old sister) who live in the central time zone. On my birthday this year, a homeless man spat on me. He wasn’t aiming for me but nonetheless.
And I know I am twenty five, but sometimes I want my mom. She came to visit me for a week and did life with me. She finally admitted, “Your life is exhausting.” I can’t just take a drive to Walmart when I am out of things. Everything is an adventure–and that word does not have a good connotation in this sentence. When she saw how I have to do laundry, I think she had a conniption. One such laundry example (there were many: from how hard it is to get quarters, to creepy basement, to the expense):
Mom: Well, we’re at Target. You need laundry detergent.
Me: But we’re walking home.
Mom: But you need laundry detergent. And it’s more expensive at that corner store.
Me: Do you want to carry that with us? (along with a poster sized frame and other assorted goods) (You win some, you lose some, Mom.)
(Oh, P.S. in an effort to be more green, San Francisco has a LAW where one must pay 10 cents per bag at any store. When I go to other cities and they ask, “Would you like a bag with that?” I get so excited because it is free! free! free! “Why yes, I would LOVE a bag with that.”)
Do not get me wrong.
I have some great friends–here, there, and everywhere. These are girls who know me, deep down to the heart of me. If we fight, there is no question if we will make up. We make up. We’ve become family. I’ve made a few friends like that here, don’t get me wrong. Friends like that don’t come cheap and they don’t come easy. Friends like that are born through the fire of hardship and difficulty. You see one another at your worst and at your best. I do have friends like that here and they are one of the reasons San Francisco still feels like a place I need to be.
Sometimes I feel as if I am scattered, made of pixels, not even really whole. Who am I? Who do I want to be? I hear (supposedly) your twenties is the time to ponder such things but sometimes it is good to have people to remind you of the answers.
Sometimes the story of the San Francisco Adventure is much better than the reality of it. But then there are those days, when everything flows together, and I am walking across Union Square and I am not a tourist; I am not here on a visit. This is where I live. This is where I work. This where I do life. And really the adventure has been incredible, not just the made for tv movie version of it.A grown man said to me, when I first moved here, “Sometimes I wake up and walk out my front door and I thank God that I live in San Francisco.” He was completely serious and he isn’t one to invoke God in a sentence unless the words damn and it follow. But that’s how people are here; once you live here, you cannot imagine living anywhere else because it really is that great. I loved it when I came, but at first, I didn’t get that concept of the superlative. It’s great but so is Chicago, so is Rome. But then. But then. It really is that great.One day, I was walking down Filmore and I realized. I love it here. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in that moment. (Let’s just not talk about my rent, okay?)
The San Francisco Forty Niners and their fans are known for this phrase: “Who’s got it better than us?” To someone who has never lived in San Francisco, it can come off as extremely pompous. Actually, it does come off that way. But people mean it genuinely. They throw their arms around you with drinks in their hand and look at the skyline. “Man,” they might say dreamily, “Who’s got it better than us?” In a weird way, it’s an actual acknowledgement that living here is a blessing.
I would be a liar if I said that I don’t think that on some days–who does have it better? This city does something to you, I am not kidding. I am not the same; yet I am not wholly different. And so, maybe it is like falling in love. Once you fall, there is no going back to the person you were before, whether it works out or not. And you can’t stop those questions either: will this be a forever love? will we just be friends, seeing each other once a year? how will this story end? So yes, I do think on a day like today: who’s got it better than us?
But there is one problem. When this picture was taken:I thought the exact same thing. Who’s got it better than us, Ava, right now snuggled up together in this bed? Nobody.
Adventures are complicated. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
But not so complicated. If I had to choose, even if it means feeling the constant push and pull, I will continue to choose to leap. Because adventures are complicated. But they are beautiful too. My San Francisco Adventure taught me that.
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