san francisco

Reflections on Spending My 20s in San Francisco

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How does one put seven years of life in a city into words?
I write so I won’t forget the small things. I have to write to remember so I can feel ready for my next chapter.

Fog. Ocean. Hills. Hugs. Dance parties. Ethnic food. Cross cultural friends. Meteor shower gazing on a blanket in Marin at midnight. Highway 1. The rumbling of buses outside. Endless birthday parties and going away parties. Weekends away: Tahoe, Half Dome, Santa Cruz, Stinson. Burritos. Burritos. Burritos. (Always cut in half.) Espicy salsa. Salsa dancing. Memorizing the brown lined carpet in the hall at work. Long treks to the grocery store on foot. All my apartments and roommates. Driving across countless bridges. Spare any change? AmeriCorps dinner parties. “Hooray for AmeriCorps.” Early morning volunteering. Using Spanish daily. Forgetting Spanish. Becoming a little bit Asian. Becoming corporate. Riding an elevator. Twenty.. second..floor.  First experiences with Trader Joe’s. Happy hours with news of the old workplaces. Regular sushi lunches. City College’s concrete walls and musty smells. Vague, unsettling feelings of not being safe while walking alone. Always looking out the J window at the top of Dolores Park. Sitting on the wall at Ocean Beach waiting for the sun to go down. Loneliness occasionally creeping in like fog. San Mateo. Twenty fifth and Isabelle. Driving down El Camino to work. Walking down Gough to work. Walking through the panhandle to work. Riding the 49 and the J to work. Riding the 5 and the 22 to work. Riding the N to work. Fellow commuters. Headphones. The lingering smell of Pakwan on a Sunday afternoon. The odd coincidence that nearly every organization I belonged to or worked for had the initials CC or CCSF. What’s the reasoning? Laughter. The circular table at Burma Superstar and its endless spinning of coconut rice, savory dishes, and Asian beer. The smell of Korean BBQ. Hiking Mount Tam and singing Disney songs. Wii Dance competitions. John Cheng’s loft. Clothing swaps. Bruno’s. Hardwood floors. Constant sounds of Chinese outside my window. Andrea’s aero bed and green comforter. Vegetarian gluten free dinners at Evan’s. Dancing at Cocomo and Roccapulco. Countless movie nights. Mimosas. Fat Tire. San Diego trips. Photography classes. Ping pong on the dining room table. Friday night drives to the suburbs.

This is only a handful of memories, a drop in the ocean from seven years of doing life in the Bay Area. But I’m now finally ready to leave and start a new chapter. Thank you, San Francisco, for being good to me. The one thing I will truly miss about SF is the people.  You guys, I don’t know if I’m going to move back, if Spain is just a quick pause, or where life will take me after this year. But I can say that you made the experience what it was for me, and you were the reason that I decided to stay. You were the family I chose. So thank you for seven amazing years of pool parties, potlucks, picnics, birthday parties, girls’ nights, and many more years of friendship to come.