Originally I found San Francisco to be too crowded and too fast. I grew up in Campbell, a sleepy suburban town in the South Bay almost completely enveloped by San Jose. Our downtown featured a water tour, granny shops, and a library built like a Cold War bunker. I rode the VTA bus to and from my high schools but that wasn’t common for anyone else in my neighborhood. Our streets were wide, parking ample, and driving more than 5 miles to go to a specific lunch spot or store wasn’t uncommon.
When I was 13 I had to see a specialist at UCSF Medical Center for a really stressful and scary medical procedure. I associated the city with all the anxieties and panic I experienced sitting in the chair of my surgeon’s office on Parnassus. My dad took me on a couple of jaunts around SF after my doctors appointments, and one year we spent a day at Fisherman’s Wharf and walking around Chinatown. For a time, I would only venture north to go to shows at the Fillmore, Bottom of the Hill, Slim’s, or my beloved Great American Music Hall. I didn’t–and still do not–like driving in the city in my big SUV.
But now I love it. On my way back from a Giants game three seasons ago, I realised I had no good reason to stay in San Jose. I love my friends there but I didn’t have a permanent job, kids, or partner to keep me there. The only thing San Jose had that San Francisco did not was ice hockey. What San Francisco did have was an energy, history, culture and excitement unlike anything in the South Bay.
Fast forward almost 3 years and I find myself sitting in the living room with my boyfriend in a 1-bedroom apartment with rent that is more than my single monthly income. I just endured my first silly San Francisco election (in which I voted in favor of our city officially recognizing corporations are not the same as people), and we have a hockey team. I no longer drive (thank GOD), I love Karl the Fog, and I know how to get chorizo burritos delivered to my door.
San Francisco feels like home now. I love it and I can’t imagine being anywhere else at this point in my life.