A city of my own

Picture Dave took of the Golden Gate on one perfect day in San Francisco.

I don’t love San Francisco.

There I said it. I know this is sort of sacrilegious to say because EVERYONE loves San Francisco. Tony Kushner once wrote, “Heaven is a city much like San Francisco,” and if that’s true, then I guess I’m doomed for eternity, because I won’t love Heaven either.

That’s not to say that there is something that wrong about San Francisco. It’s a nice enough city, and it definitely is absolutely beautiful those two days of the year when it’s sunny. There are numerous great restaurants, mediocre public transit that at least manages to get me from my apartment to my office and back again at about the same speed as a car. There are some nice museums, some picturesque parks, crazy people, amazing vegan food, industrial composting.

It’s not a bad city is what I’m saying.

And yet…

It’s not MY city.

I remember when I lived in Los Angeles, I used to go on aimless drives through the city at 2:00 am (before I became all eco and realized what a waste of gas that was.) Driving the 405 in the wee hours of the morning, I felt like I was part of the city and the city was part of me. So much so that I would get the urge to kiss the ground in front of me, though I never did.

As tried and true as it is that everyone loves San Francisco, everyone hates LA. But I didn’t. For me, LA was filled with hidden treasure at every corner. LA was the city where I knew the good bars, the good restaurants, the fun things to do. It’s the city I have memories strewn across from Sepulveda to Vermont.  It’s the only city that I have EVER developed some semblance of a sense of direction in. It’s the city that has left a firm and lasting imprint on my heart.

And then there’s San Francisco.

I like San Francisco. It’s you know, a little small, compared to LA. There’s not as much to do. The theatre is a little more regional (though frequently, I’ll admit, quite good). The movies open later here, though I don’t really see movies much anymore.

It’s a good town. It’s near my mom and most of my friends. There are beautiful outdoorsy places nearby. I met my fiance here. I fell in love in these hills. I’m getting married here.

It feels like a good place to settle in my thirties.

But it’s not got the pulse of LA. The vibrancy. I don’t feel part of anything, except maybe I’m part of the cult of yuppy crunchies that all call San Francisco home.

It’s a fine place to live. Kind of like how people move to the burbs after spending their twenties in Manhattan.

But it’s not my city.

NB: I would like to add that I understand that part of my own lack of enthusiasm for San Francisco is my own fault for not really getting to know the city as well. Also, I realize that part of this is just about how your life changes in your thirties. I’m probably never going to drink a 40 in an Orchard Supply Hardware parking lot in San Francisco because that’s just not my life anymore and it’s not really San Francisco’s fault.

7 responses to “A city of my own

  1. Ha, that’s how I feel about New York. I’m in Toronto now, and it’s okay, it’s even gotten pretty good. But it’ll never hold the same place in my heart. Funny how we grow into places and change because of them.

  2. I forget sometimes that I hated LA for two years before I grew to love it. I guess I should hope that that happens with San Francisco too.

  3. I still miss New York and would move back tomorrow…all the walking, subways, weird grocery stores and all..

  4. It’s funny. I’m a native Angelina whose heart is really in San Francisco… but I still love Los Angeles. I learned to love it, but it was hard when I first moved back (for family reasons.) It was hard because the city is so diffuse and because post-college made things more difficult for friend-making. It definitely took time, but I was committed to finding the great stuff about LA, since I had to live here. I planned “tourist” days when I went exploring, I know every free event website resource in existence, and I organized acquaintances (now friends) into adventuring around town. And now, I love this city and all its underground treasures and creativity and anything-goes attitude and mix of cultures and nearby nature.

    But I hear you. My heart is actually in the Bay Area, even if I *love* my life here and still find rad adventures every weekend. There’s something about certain cities that can speak to a particular soul. But, as I’m learning, your city (so long as its not podunk) is also what you make of it… which requires a lot of hard work.

    But feel free to come visit LA whenever you want. There’s an Orchard Supply House two blocks from my apartment…

  5. Kel, at least you are in a pretty great city now though. But yeah, I think there’s always a special place in your heart for the city you spent your 20s (or the bulk of your 20s) in.

    Becca, I think that’s key: planning touristy days to explore your city. I really haven’t done the hard work and that’s my fault.

  6. You know I’m starting to fall in love with LA…and I don’t even care for all the car crap. San Diego is such a small souless town where everyone is mild mannered I want to slap people just to get a rise out of them. I love going out and exploring and hate that I’m already done exploring san Diego … Or maybe I’m getting old and pining for a youth I never had

  7. Sam, you know, I forgot to mention this in my post, but when I GOT OUT of my car and started walking everywhere more, I fell in love with LA even more. You should totally move there. I’ll visit you! 😉

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