I MOVED BACK TO SAN FRANCISCO!!!!
Social media version: I moved back to San Francisco after I graduated. I moved in with my fiancé and back to where all my friends live. As you may have gathered from all the cute photos and status updates I put up, my life here is absolutely amazing and envious.
More balanced version: I moved back to San Francisco after I graduated. Commuting in my neighborhood sucks, I miss my LA friends, and people up here have moved on with their lives. My life is good, no doubt… but time changes things, and it’s something to think about.
As those of you who know me know, or those who have been reading my blog over the years may have picked up on, I lived in San Francisco, CA before I moved to Japan to teach English. I went to undergrad in SF and lived and worked here for a few years after graduating. I have always considered the city one of my greatest loves of all time. There is just something—or many somethings, and many someones—about San Francisco that leaves me perpetually spellbound. It was thus always a hope and tentative plan of mine to return/reside here after living abroad and finishing grad school in LA. And what do you know: I was able to make that happen. I graduated in June, moved back up in July, and have been settling back into the groove of the Bay ever since. To be plainly honest, the transition has gone pretty well. I moved in with my fiancé, who had been living here during the duration of our long-distance relationship, so I didn’t have to worry about finding an affordable place to live nor about facing the frustrating reality that doing so is nearly impossible for most people in this day and age. Of course, it also hasn’t hurt that I already know people and places here, that after being stuck among Dodgers fans for three years I’d been desperate to get back to the land of the Giants (World Series-bound this week!), and that I simply adore the city in general.
So yeah. By most standards, my setup in SF is pretty sweet, and moving back here is something I’m extremely grateful for. But, as with everything, it’s not perfect.
For starters, I’m still getting used to living in my neighborhood of the Mission. The Mission is known for many things—burritos, gang violence, and hipsters, to name a few—and though I never pictured myself residing in this particular pocket of the city when I previously lived here, I have returned to a social climate in which the Mission is actually one of the most desirable areas to dwell in SF. And I get to live here. In my attempts to cut my expenses by decreasing the amount I drive, I get to walk one long, sweaty mile to and from the BART in order to get to Oakland where I work. During that walk, I often get to figure out the best way to respond to the one to two sexually harassing comments I am likely to encounter between the station and my home, simply because I am woman walking in this neighborhood by myself (I have plans to go into this topic more globally in a future blog post). I get to feel guilty that I always feel more safe that I won’t get raped if I walk down certain more gentrified, racially-whitened streets than others. Within these series of complicated blocks with a stop sign on every corner, I toggle between being on the “pedestrians” and “drivers” team of the all-out commuting war waged between my people and bicyclists. I have to be really, really careful that I don’t hit a person when I’m in my car, drive into a cyclist, or get run over by a car or cyclist when I’m walking. On some days, COMMUTING IN THE MISSION IS ANNOYING AS HELL.
And then there’s the social aspect of having moved to SF. I may always wonder to myself how different my life in LA would have been if I hadn’t been there specifically for grad school. It’s not that I didn’t make friends in LA; it’s that looking back on it, I didn’t get to spend adequate time hanging out with my friends and getting to know them on a more intimate level, due primarily to the all-consuming focus I felt I needed to put into school there. I was also away visiting SF on quite a few weekends. I was able to chill a little more towards the end of my third year of school, mainly because I finally had the writing of my thesis out of the way. And, as life would have it, that’s when I started to hang out with and got to know better the friends I hadn’t had the time nor energy to pursue as much before. And I felt sad when I realized this was happening, because by then I knew that I was definitely moving up to SF and that I wouldn’t again have the opportunity to live among all these awesome people (most were not Dodgers fans, thankfully :P). I was faced, and still face, the reality that our closeness will likely take a blow to the physical distance I’ve chosen to put between myself and my LA friends.
Finally, there’s the adjustment to my new social life in San Francisco. When I left here 4.5 years ago, I said goodbye to my social butterfly high of merrily fluttering with college friends, after-college friends, Yelp friends, and I-have-no-idea-how-we-met friends. When I moved to Japan and LA, I gradually watched the number of people I kept in touch with in SF become fewer and fewer. And in 4.5 years, things change a lot! Not that I really expected things would stay exactly the same with my friends who’ve continued to live in the Bay. But I’ve had to make a very conscious effort to maintain my closest friendships here over the past few years. And though I’ve attempted here and there to reconnect with more peripheral folks, the dynamic is different now. I’m now with someone I didn’t know at all 4.5 years ago, and while my closest friends have grown to love him too, being in a committed relationship (and life/time in general) inevitably means not staying in touch with everyone from my past. It’s a bit of a change for me, since I used to be the kind of person who loved picking things back up with people I used to know, be it friends from grade school, old flames, or other rand-o characters I’ve met along the way (Facebook has been great, slash terrible for that). I used to relish in the freedom I had to learn what they’re all up to, and I once had the willingness to be open to re-growing those connections. I’m less willing now. In many ways, there’s just less room now. Less time. It’s not bad. It’s just the way it is.
Maybe some people don’t think about these things as much as I do, or are just better at accepting them or something. But when I take the time to reflect on what moving back to San Francisco has meant to me, this is what I come up with. Overall, I feel good about this part of my life. I wouldn’t change the course of events that had to happen in order to get here.
So I’ll leave you with a few images of my SF life since I came back in July. Most of them were insta-captured while I was fun-employed (which ended 6 weeks ago… another Best Day Ever to write about soon). They probably do more than this wordy post does to explain why I love the city so much.