This post is inspired by one I read over at La Dolce Vita, a blog written by a lucky girl who just moved back to her hometown after living a few years in Rome. She was feeling Rome-sick, and I’ve been feeling home-sick, so I am adopting her solution: make a list of the things I love about the place I’m calling home these days.
Everything is temporary, right? So it makes sense to love where I’m at while I’m here… even if that’s easier said than done sometimes.
10 Reasons Why I Love San Francisco:
1. The Weather
Growing up in the deep South, my favorite time of year was Fall when the days finally mellowed, there was a slight nip in the air, and I could pull out my cold weather clothes. It’s like that all the time here! (I am learning the art of layering!)
You know when you visit somewhere new, and you’re travelling from sight to sight, and you wonder what it would be like to actually live there? I’m that person you pass waiting for the bus, shopping at the grocery store, hiking up the hills, as the double decker sightseeing buses and jam-packed cable cars rumble by. It’s weird to see tourists snapping pictures of the sights I pass every day, but I have to admit it’s pretty cool that I live in a place that people travel to see, and I’m getting to know the city beyond the tourist landmarks.
3. The Landscapes
There are so many sights I never grew up around—a bustling urban city, for one, but also the natural landforms: mountains and the Pacific Ocean and the bays and wine country and the hills.
4. The Proximity to Famous Landmarks
I guess this goes along with #2 and #3, but after growing up in small rural towns in the middle of nowhere, I’m still amazed that two bus rides can take me from the Golden Gate bridge to Haight Ashbury to Ocean or Baker beach to Ghirardelli Square, and the list goes on. San Francisco is tiny compared to other metropolitan cities like New York, and I like it that way. It’s compactness means it never takes more than an hour to get wherever you need to be, and you’ll probably pass a lot of famous sights along the way.
5. Public Transportation
Ok, I’ll admit that this one can go either way. But on good days, I love it. The public buses are ubiquitous and very convenient, especially my work commute. It takes 20 minutes from the time I’m out the door in the morning to the time I’m walking into my office. We sold both of our cars when we moved here, and it’s nice not to have to worry about the overhead that cars entail—insurance, maintenance, parking fees, finding parking places… not to mention the stress of parallel parking, navigating a city full of one-way streets, traffic, and steep hills. Plus, relying on public transportation means I walk more than I ever have before, even in college. Sam and I walk to the grocery store (and only buy what we can carry), out for dinner, basically anywhere within a couple miles’ radius.
6. Our Location
When we were first hunting for apartments, we focused on the East Bay because it’s more affordable but would also require a long work commute over the bridge and keeping our cars because public transportation is not as prevalent. Living in the city means higher rent and, because most of the buildings are pre-war construction, amenities like air conditioning, dishwasher, and in-unit washer/dryer are slim to none. It’s still difficult to live without those modern conveniences, but now that I’ve spent some time living in a city I can appreciate that everything I need is within walking distance, and those things that I thought I needed—like Wal-Mart and giant grocery stores—aren’t as necessary as I thought. Nob Hill is close to a lot of great neighborhoods, and public transportation is super convenient (unlike some parts of the city that are more residential). I also love all the pre-war architecture, with all the intricate details on the doors, ceilings, trim work, and bright colors.
7. People Watching
Oh, the people watching. Actually, before I moved here I expected everyone to be much more over-the-top: flamboyant and colorful and hippy-dippy and all those stereotypes. But San Francisco is really a big city like any other, and with it comes a variety of people that I just didn’t have exposure to growing up in a small town. Waiting in a line is never boring because there’s always someone entertaining around the corner, a passing conversation to overhear, or cute outfits to study.
It’s nice to live in a place with lots of options and opportunities to try new things–cuisine, shopping, entertainment. There are so many different choices for dining out close by—Sam has even discovered that he likes Latin and Mediterranean food. (If you know how picky Sam is, you know that’s a big deal!) I also have easy access to any sort of groceries I could need—local organic markets, farmers markets, ethnic groceries in Chinatown, North Beach (Italian), or the Mission (Latin), etc. There’s even a specialty cheese store two blocks away—and all they sell are different kinds of freshly made cheese. There are more festivals, fairs, museum exhibits, theatre openings, and art galleries than we can see! In the year we’ve been here, we’ve had opportunities to see the bands and other entertainment that have always passed over small towns. We’ve seen limited release movies, we’ve been to concerts for The National and Jeff Mangum, I’ve been to readings by the authors Anne Lamott and Lev Grossman, we recently saw the comedian Aziz Ansari and we have tickets to see Louis CK in the next few months. That’s more shows in one year than I’ve been to in my entire life!
9. It’s easier to be “Green”
It’s a lot more convenient to go “green” in a city that encourages it every step of the way–my apartment and almost every restaurant, food court, movie theatre, etc. has recycleingand compost bins right next to the trash can. There are more options for organic/recyclable/green products. Now that I’m not driving to the store anymore, I carry a reusable bag in my purse and whip it out when I’m shopping. Since I’ve got to carry home anything that I buy, I can usually fit everything into one bag. Before moving here, being “green” wasn’t really a priority for me but it’s easier to make those choices when everyone around you is doing the same.
10. We actually did it!
Moving (and facing health problems) as a newly married couple is really scary—especially for the first time as adults—and sometimes I’m still amazed that we actually did it. Moving here, so far away from all of our support systems, has made me rely on Sam a lot more. We’ve faced a lot of circumstances that most young couples don’t have to deal with, and the fact that we’re so far away from the people we would normally rely on for support has forced us to strengthen our relationship. We had a lot of help, of course, but at the end of the day I’m proud that Sam and I have built a life by ourselves in a new city. I have routines and favorites and a sense of where I am and what I’m doing. I never expected to move across the country, and I never could have done it alone.
When I’m feeling lonely or homesick, sometimes it helps me to remember that fact: I didn’t think I could move and start a new life, but I did it anyway.
What do you love about your home, wherever you’re calling “home” these days?