Leaving San Francisco

I’m never exactly sure what I was thinking and feeling prior to the other major moves of my life, maybe because I was too busy actually moving, or preparing to move. I definitely wasn’t being a particularly active journal-keeper during those times. I’m going to try to do better this time around. Thus, here is the first in what may or may not be a relatively introspective (or maybe just rambling and pointless) series of essays on my departure from Sodom by the Bay:

In the early years of this site, I used to marvel at how almost any criticism I might make of San Francisco — no matter how constructive its intent or insignificant its content — was almost always greeted with email messages suggesting “if you hate it here so much, why don’t you leave?”

I learned quickly that the mere hint of negativity about the sacred city of St. Francis would be drowned by a chorus of residents (many of whom had logged even fewer years here than I had) who believed that anything short of undying allegiance rendered one somehow unworthy of living in such a wonderful city as San Francisco. If I saw something wrong, the chorus insisted, it was largely due to my own perspective and was probably due to the fact that I was too fucking stupid to realize what an absolutely perfect paradise I’d been granted the privilege of living in.

In short, If I had any problems with any aspect of the city, I didn’t deserve to live here. San Francisco: love it or leave it.

Mind you, I was aware of all this even while I still liked living here. For several years, I was rather amused by this place which took itself so very seriously. I found it a rather quaint little joke, and it made for some interesting essay topics on this website.

But after thirteen years, I’ve decided to listen to the chorus. I’ve reached the point where the negatives outweigh the positives. In less than a month, I’ll be saying good-bye to this place which has been home for nearly a third of my life — and for more than half of my adult life.

I’m excited and happy. I’ll be living with the love of my life in a city I’ve always thought of as my adopted home town. We’ve already found a great apartment and we plan to buy a house as soon as we’re settled. Although I’m slightly nervous about the logistics, I have absolutely no reservations about leaving this place.

At the same time, I also don’t regret the years I’ve spent here. Not one bit. In many ways, I became an individual and an adult in San Francisco, which is something I’m very proud of, particularly since this city has the exact opposite effect on so many of its transplants. I spent some very important time here, and — for the most part — I enjoyed it. Especially the early years.

In those days, it was exciting for me to be here. There were a lot of things I needed to learn about myself, and an urban environment far from home seemed the best place for me to learn them. I was an only child, and I very much feared forming too close an attachment to my parents. I believe it’s very common for only children to alternate between overdependence and severe, almost self-destructive rebellion, and I didn’t want to still be in that cycle at age 30. All in all, I think our long distance separation was good for them and for me, although it maybe lasted a bit too long.

I’ve changed a lot since 1992. Different things are important to me now. I’m not inclined to choose a job based on how it will affect my partying and social life. I don’t drink, smoke, or chase boys around sex clubs anymore. When I travel, it’s about what I can see during the day rather than how many bars I can visit each night. I’m more excited by a comfortable home than by an “interesting” neighborhood. I don’t particularly need nor want the expense, the inconvenience, nor the whole San Francisco experience anymore. If that makes me boring, so be it.

But there are definitely things I’ll miss about San Francisco and about California. It will be an adjustment driving to work every day; I haven’t commuted using a car since about two years after I moved here. Strangely, I think I’ll miss parts of California other than San Francisco (Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, Los Angeles) more than I’ll miss the actual city I live in. And I’ll definitely miss the informality, the lack of overt religion and the cool, foggy weather.

But none of this is really enough to keep me here any longer. I’d actually decided in early 2001 that I would be leaving San Francisco within a year, although my departure was delayed by one bad thing and one really good one. Mark has never particularly liked San Francisco, and it was assumed we’d be living here only temporarily even from the start.

And now, the time has come. I wish us well.