One year ago today, I moved to San Francisco.
Technically this is my second tour of duty. I lived in SF briefly in 2007-2008 – barely a year, and the city, and my life, couldn’t have been more different then. SF and I had a rocky relationship ten years ago – Lyft and Uber didn’t exist yet, and getting around the city was a pain and involved lots of quality time on the 38 bus up and down Geary. I was also working as a waitress at an old school Italian restaurant on Fillmore, applying to grad school and trying to figure out what to do with my life. My transposition situation and my life both felt uncertain and tenuous, full of the angst of being in my early twenties and trying to figure everything out.
Fast forward ten years, and after a stint in New York and moving back to the Bay Area suburbs near my hometown, I’ve circled back to San Francisco, and my experience this go-round couldn’t be more different.
Before moving up to SF last year, I had mentally steeled myself for it to be hard – really, really hard. Building a life in New York took Herculean amounts of time and energy, and I was prepared for the same experience in SF, starting over in a new place, building community from scratch. What I found instead was that instead of me rolling up my sleeves and pushing boulders uphill to build a life here, everything fell into place with a gentle tap of my finger, like a full, rich, beautiful life in San Francisco was already set up and waiting for me, eager to welcome me with open arms.
I fell in love with the first church I visited, and City Church continues to be a cornerstone of the connection and community that mark my life here. I often say that the two halves of my heart are Jesus and social justice, and while I’ve been part of many communities that do one half of that equation well [churches, grad school, workplaces] for the first time in my life I’ve found a community that reflects both of those. I’ve found “my people” – who want to live out their faith by loving others radically and well, and working towards dismantling systems of injustice and oppression – and I couldn’t be more grateful.
One of the things I treasure most about San Francisco is that it is undeniably a city, yet still feels like a small town. Two of my dearest friends in the world live less than a ten minute walk away from me, and I run into people I know all the time – on Muni, in the cafe on the corner, buying butter and eggs at the neighborhood market. On a recent walk around my neighborhood with a friend I know from Google, I ran into a gentleman in his 60s whom I met singing Christmas carols in the Tenderloin with my church and a young mom of a toddler whom I met at a one year old’s birthday in Duboce park. That diversity – of ages and experiences and people from all corners of this city and aspects of my life – add up to this beautiful, rich San Francisco experience that I am profoundly grateful for.
I’m a Bay Area native, so San Francisco – with it’s chill California vibe and proximity to the ocean – feels like home, yet it still has the energy and culture and grit of a city, which I love. If New York was too chaotic, and Mountain View too quiet, San Francisco is just right – the proverbial Goldilocks-and-The-Three-Bears city of my dreams.
This place feels, deeply in my bones, like home.
As I type that, I get choked up, because home is not a term I take lightly – for a long time home was the house I grew up in, with my parents – a family that made up for being small in size [just the three of us] by being rich in love. After my dad died and we sold the house I grew up in, there was a long time when I didn’t feel like I had a home – a place of stability and rest, a place to be known and loved and cared for, to find rest and refreshment and be fortified to take on the world.
San Francisco – my apartment, my job, my church, my friends, the richness of my life here – has become that home, and all I can do is be thankful – for the ways God has brought together threads of faith and friendship and life experiences from the last decade, and woven them together.
One of the verses I love is Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” and when I reflect on my life over the past year, I see God at work in beautiful, profound, shake-my-head-at-God’s-providence ways. There are still plenty of loose ends in my life that haven’t been tied up, but when I reflect back on how far He has brought me over that last ten years – especially this past year – I have no doubt that He’s got a plan for the rest of those threads and will keep working “all things for good.”
Time is a funny thing, and the older I get the more I find myself reflecting on it’s mind-bending nature. My best friend is about to welcome her third child into the world, and last weekend as I placed my hands on her belly to feel the baby kick I remembered doing the same thing with her daughter, now a three year old, and her son, now five, both of whom were running around and having conversations with me about sparkly nail polish and trains. It was her son’s birth, in large part, that brought me back to California in the first place – as an only child, I view my best friends’ kiddos as my nieces and nephews, and I didn’t want to miss the chance to watch him grow up. Now he’s in Kindergarten, and the fact that I remember feeling him kick in utero blows my mind.
The cliche is true, that time passes more quickly as you get older. I’ve heard the quote said about parenting that “the days are long but the years are short” and I feel like that also applies to life in general. Parts of this past year have felt impossibly long, but as I sit here I’m incredulous that I’ve already lived in SF a full year, and part of me longs for time to slow down, so I can savor every moment.
So, San Francisco – here we are. When we first met our relationship status was complicated – we had our fair share of ups and downs. Then we took a long break, and frankly I didn’t think about you much for years and years. Then we found our way to each other again somehow, and those first few weeks and months were a happy blur of smitteness. Things stabilized over time, that first infatuation faded and I saw your flaws more clearly – but I still loved you, and now I can honestly say I can’t imagine my life without you.
Thanks for being you. Happy Anniversary.