I’ve been in San Francisco for five days now. Going home sometime tomorrow night. I’ve come out here with one child instead of the usual two. Mostly I’m here this week to deliver child one to camp. Because when you live in the mountains your kid doesn’t do summer camp to make wallets and go fishing. Your kid’s summer camp is in the City because the City is what you’re missing.
I used to live in San Francisco. If it had been an affordable City where one could raise children without a 200K a year income, I’d have stayed. But the idea of having to raise two kids in a one bedroom apartment and lugging strollers up flights of stairs got the better of me. And so 12 years ago, I left. There are many things I still love about San Francisco, but the competition for decent affordable housing will never be one of them.
But it’s not a unique story. Most of my friends who don’t make 200K a year—that would be all but my two friends who own houses here and one who became the last woman standing on her rent controlled apartment–have left too. For me, it really can be a City of ghosts. Friends died here too in the 80s and 90s. It is after all, San Francisco.
I usually feel quite smug and justified in my decision to move to the Sierras, but the City offers a counter narrative; she makes me feel like a loser for giving up so easily. I am reminded while I’m here why I liked here in the first place. What the Sierras have lacked and will always lack.
How is it that rural places never have decent cuisine? Or a decent book store? Or a record store? Or a theatre that shows great plays and films? They are stupid questions. We expect rural to be void of culture. What if we raised our expectations? Why does the beauty of the state, the country really, belong instead to those who decorate front lawns with flags and gun casings? To tri-tip and mayonnaise salads? Why are the two worlds so mutually exclusive.
This morning I will deliver my son to the 4th day of Lego iMovie camp. He is with other nerds around the Bay Area.I will meet a friend in North Beach for coffee and lunch and I know already whatever I eat will be fabulous. I will bother with hair and makeup. I will be self-conscious about my unshaved legs no one will see.
In truth I miss this place. If she would have me back, I would be back in SF in a heart beat.