Is San Francisco still a city that mothers should warn their childern about? You bet.
If you're like me, a kid from a conservative religious family in small time America, you are pleased with your decision to move to San Francisco. You are so pleased that you have little desire to visit your hometown. And where is your hometown anyway? Is it behind some exit sign next to a convenience store? What can you really say of that place? These people knew me, these people grew up with me, these people took care of me.
I don't feel as thankful as I should. I feel as though no one is to blame for my indifference. If anything, disbelief exists- disbelief that I came from somewhere else. I feel as if I fell out of the sky and landed in the 20th century five years ago. Shock and disbelief. It's been too many movies and books and art gallery ago to remember.
I have always been a San Franciscan in my heart of hearts. That young girl staring out the window waiting to be released, waiting to engage in a life without longing. And I never quite was aware of what I was longing for, it was just a sense of longing for the other. Something outside of the world I knew as a child.
I read too many books, barricading myself in my room, concerned parents whispering at the door. I wrote letters I would never send to celebrities. Dreaming and imagining more, more of everything. I wanted more than the salt and pepper my life offered. And were did this sense of longing begin? Where I ask you? Was it books that gave me impressions of the far away, the crackle of languages of distant lands, the urge to know the characters of Dostoevsky, the rant of Rimbaud? Yes. More than anything.
My parents had sheltered my brothers and sisters and I from TV , Movies, rock music and dangerous friends. They never anticipated the spell those innocent literature titles would cast over me. I found out about the other, the knowledge of the other world beyond the boundaries of "that coastal town they forget to close down." -Morrisey
So San Francisco is the place at the end of a long train ride, a place I know as home. It is the place I took the cab ride from the hostel to her house. The sun was shining and there was goodwill in the air, music playing, the cab driver and I spoke of Jazz. We got lost- her flat was on a little side street twisting off from Market Street. I remember the cab driver taking out his map. We finally figured out we were on the wrong side of Market Street.
Over and up the hill to her little quiet street. I pulled out my heavy bag, swung it over my shoulder thanking him. I went up the two flights of stairs and never looked back. I was taken deeply with the promise of the city. It wasn't until later that I fell in love.
I equate this city with love and dreams and hope and discovery about myself and life. I love its steep Victorians and rod iron gates, even if they are keeping me out. I love its residents' spirit and finesse. I love their fight. I like that an underdog candidate shook up our celebrity mayor. I am pro pie brigade and critical mass, and for each and every protest- in the true spirit of protest- to provoke thought and change. Don't get me wrong I usually am not marching but I am certainly happy to see people awake.
I like that San Franciscans care and can sometimes be silly and over the top in their convictions. Just the other day, a caring citizen stopped me to ask me if I fully understood the petition I signed to place on the ballot? The care that roams these streets, always vigilant these citizens.
I like that I can watch a leather daddy on the F line having a conversation with someone's grandmother. I admire the citizens in my city. And yes we now have gentrification and cell phones and movie deals. But you know what who the hell cares? Maybe you've been away from Kansas or Florida too long to remember-but it sucks there 365 days of the year and they don't sell fresh bread and the dining establishment of choice is Burger King. We have this fine city and its citizens, many of them people who have called San Francisco home for much longer than I. To those city dwellers who have become jaded I say, San Francisco is still enough to trouble my parents and the rest of conservative America, and for this we should rejoice.