Every time I ride the 101 from SFO to my apartment in downtown San Francisco, I get a lump in my throat. If you’ve never seen it, it’s breathtaking. You coast along sparking water to your right, and to your left—hills upon hills that roll with fog and twinkling lights from rows of Victorian homes. I can’t help but think, “Damn. I live in the greatest city in the world.”
San Francisco is where I grew into my own. It’s where I got my first real job at a cushy tech company, thrown into Silicon Valley with nothing but baby soft skin and the eagerness of a new college grad. Fully comped trips to Vegas and an endless supply of new iPhones, yes, but also tumultuous hurdles of a company in transition and my unwitting mutation into a corporate zombie. San Francisco is where I made friendships that will last a lifetime. Friends who have embraced me at my lowest lows and entertained my highest aspirations. Friends whom I’ve laughed with until tears stream down my face and I know in that moment I’m the happiest person on the planet. San Francisco is where I’ve looked for love. It’s where I’ve dated great men—men whom I’ll probably read about one day—but ultimately realized that my heart is with someone 1,268 miles away.
San Francisco is a city where you go to a random rooftop and run into friends whom you’ve been meaning to catch up with for months. It’s a city whose tacos you dream of when you’ve spent too many weeks abroad. It’s a city where you can stumble home drunk in a pizza costume and no one will even look twice. Where you throw house parties that are way too big for your shoebox of an apartment. And you smile with pure joy at how sticky the floors are the next morning.
Hazy days in Dolores Park. Ocean beach bonfires. Shucking oysters in Tomales Bay. Driving down Pacific Coast Highway with your bare feet up on the dash. And exploring. Napa, Carmel, Tahoe, the Redwoods, Big Sur. Always exploring.
But, San Francisco it is a city of paradox. Where tech professionals walk through mentally ill homeless and addicts shooting up heroin to get to a company shuttle. Where actual human poop is smeared along sidewalks that are also lined with luxury condos. Where I can get called a “gorgeous lady” and a “Chink-ass bitch” within the same block. Where the most intelligent people in the world can’t solve for the basic human need of living in a peaceful community.
To all of you who are lucky enough to live in this magnificent city, my advice to you is this: really live in it. Opt out of Uber and walk home instead. Grab food from a nearby farmer's market rather than ordering dinner from Munchery or Sprig or Postmates or SpoonRocket or Caviar. Say “hi” to the homeless man on the corner or even *gasp*, someone you don’t know at a café. Donate to Goodwill, serve meals at Glide, or sign up for communal events. The more you interact with the community, the better it will be to you in return.
San Francisco, I love you. Thank you for being so good to everyone I know. We owe you one.