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    Monday, December 18, 2006

    The chapter in my life entitled San Francisco



    And just like that, it’s over. I’m still reeling really, my body displaced, my mind still making the necessary adjustments. It didn’t feel real until I looked out the window, down at the grid of lights gleaming like sequins. There was New York City taking rapid shape. Squiggles becoming snaking highways, gold patches growing into districts, the grandeur of buildings suddenly poking at heaven’s underbelly. A year after moving out West, I was back home again. Back among the crunch of bodies and traffic, industry and noise. Back in the city that I spent two decades seducing.

    I’d moved to California last December just because I’d always wanted to live there. I had little conception of what San Francisco would be like and when I’d made the decision to move there, I had no job prospects, no apartment waiting and no friends in town. But I couldn’t resist the prospect of resetting, of broaching some entirely new territory. And almost as soon as I began to explore it, it started to win me over. It was so vastly different from the city I’d grown in up that the two seemed incomparable.

    There were the endless rolling hills that turned the landscape into a Stairmaster or a sine curve, the paint-by-numbers houses with their neon shocks of colors. Living near the beach and the Golden Gate Bridge, I watched the daily blankets of fog swathing the shore. I watched the Pacific recede, as chilly and distant as a mourning widow. I’d spend hours, days, weeks wandering around, orchestrating self-led tours in the company of carefully selected albums. I’d take in farmers’ markets, Chinatown stalls and the serenity of the Golden Gate Park with equal enthusiasm. I’d explore the knots and pockets of space that felt like uncharted islands and indulge in the oily ecstasy of Mission taquerías. I fed on the current of change that seemed to charge the air and wrote long into the night.

    And just like that, it’s over. I’m still too close to the experience to fully know the long-term impact it’ll have. But I do know that it became much harder to leave than I expected, to once again trade in all the routines and relationships I’d established. I do know that it was a year that was both intense and intensely memorable. It gave my life a new geography and like the city itself, there were many unexpected ups and downs. But in sum, it was a fairly incredible and moving and formative chapter, and I'm grateful for the all the things I've learned.

    * MP3: "The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco" - The Lucksmiths from Warmer Corners [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Come Back From San Francisco" - Magnetic Fields from 69 Love Songs [Buy it]
    * MP3: "San Francisco" - Hello Saferide from Introducing: Hello Saferide [Buy it]

    * MP3: "NYC" - Interpol from Turn On The Bright Lights [Buy it]
    * MP3: "I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City" - Harry Nilsson from Harry/Nilsson Sings Newman [Buy it]
    * MP3: "New York USA" - Serge Gainsbourg from Couleur Café [Buy it]

    Comments on "The chapter in my life entitled San Francisco"

     

    Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:39 PM) : 

    Oh, I went through this, moving to SF after college with my boyfriend (yes, we promptly broke up) when the rest of my friends headed to Brooklyn. It's been 4 years since I returned to New York's expensive/loving arms and my life became instantly easier. You'll be really glad for your stint in the long run and if you're like me you'll sometimes think "I miss it; maybe if I went back now, I could really conquer it, you know?" But it would still be too pastel-colored and damp and filled with apeshit crazy people.

     

    Blogger Charlie said ... (5:09 PM) : 

    Great comment, thanks. "Too pastel-colored and damp and filled with apeshit crazy people" should seriously become the city's new motto.

     

    Blogger Passion of the Weiss said ... (6:24 PM) : 

    San Francisco's always been my favorite American city, so I can only imagine how tough it would be to leave. At least thrice daily I think about leaving LA to head north, but I never do, so good for you for having the courage to do it in the first place. I really enjoyed the writing in this post too, nice work. Hope the re-adjustment to NYC goes well.

     

    Blogger music is art said ... (1:35 PM) : 

    this was beautifully written... thankyou for sharing

    i know too well the challenge of moving to different destinations, creating and letting go of new relationships and taking in every single tiny detail while searching for something else...

    hmmm.. maybe our paths will cross one day in nyc :)

     

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