Saturday, October 20, 2012

Glitter is How I Fell in Love with San Francisco

The mid-twenties women of my peer group all have one question on our minds.  Especially if we are in tech.  Should we move to San Francisco?

I had been living in San Francisco for a few weeks (during an internship) when a friend asked if I was in love with it.  "No" was my immediate response.  Not yet and maybe not ever.  People are so laid back, I said.  All I do is work and commute (from the southern Mission to Menlo Park, 45 minutes, twice each day).  Where are the intellectuals?  Where are the Europeans?  Why is everyone so outdoorsy? And why is it so cold?

I subsequently had several conversations about why I was not in love.  Try to like it more, my other friends said.  You of all people can figure out how to enjoy yourself there.

And so I started spending more time in the city: wearing scarves and finding the flat places to bike.  I went into the uniquely American natural beauty of California's mountains and redwood groves.  I went on hilly runs with breathtaking views of the city and the water.  I ate sushi; I ate pork belly; I ate everything.

One night I acquired loose glitter to wear to what a new friend and I thought was a theme party, what but turned out to be a play party.  (Only in San Francisco...)  The next night I asked the friend if it was okay to continue wearing the glitter.  She laughed and said, this is San Francisco.  You will never be the weirdest person on the street.

One day I acquired a metallic blue cape.  When I asked the woman at the store if it was okay to wear it "right now," she laughed and said, this is San Francisco.

What a good way to describe the attitude of the city, where you can do whatever you feel inspired to do without judgment.  People describe their lives in terms of projects rather than professions.  The CTO of a high-profile tech company is also a yoga instructor.  You can wear a suit or patterned pajamas.  Men, at least in the Castro, are equally likely to be naked or wearing nun costumes.   You can have conversations with strangers on the street.  This is San Francisco.

I remember when I first realized I was falling in love.  After a night out and little sleep after, I biked from the Mission to the Sunset for a leisurely few hours with old friends.  I felt so alive biking back through Golden Gate Park in the sunshine: satiated by an incredible Mexican brunch, wearing a newly-acquired thrift-shop jacket, still covered in last night's glitter.

Glitter is how I fell in love with San Francisco.  I still do not know if I should move there--but what a beautiful affair.


Note: My descriptions do not apply to the South Bay/Silicon Valley.  I am in love with neither the South Bay nor the commute to and from there from the city.


rachel said...

I haven't had the heart to sweep up the glittieriest corner of my room!

also I really like the idea of giving yourself permission to explore in whatever way you need that permission - being in a weird city glitter etc etc

Miju said...

For what it's worth, I didn't realize it was not going to be only a theme party until people started playing. :)

Come back to San Francisco! I want to talk more about Cindy Gallop.

prabhasp said...

Nicely written Jean :) Liked reading this one a lot.

michael said...


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