The Bay is a bubble in every possible way—San Francisco squishing whatever it has to offer within 49 square miles, techies dominating every space, computer science weaving its way into every conversation, a sea of homogeneous North Face jackets and plain tees probably from Gap or H&M. Nothing quite wrong with any of this at all, but a little stifling when all you want to do is be a starving artist in a place that celebrates unconventionality. Starving artists aren’t even allowed to starve here, what with all the VC funding and the inevitability of working for some sort of tech-based startup.
So I left.
And now I’m here (here being HERE) and I think I love it but I also think I hate this place. The grit is something I’m sure I’ll grow used to and maybe even appreciate for giving this city its character. The pretentiousness of sparkling versus still is something I will never condone. Who wants to be burping up overpriced carbon dioxide anyway? This entire city apparently. I don’t think I’ll be able to assimilate into a culture that promotes Coca Cola and turns a blind eye to cigarettes as much as California loves its pressed juice and marijuana. But I do love the speed of everything. The crowds are continually moving, there are no irritatingly slow walkers here because they’ve all already been trampled to death, subway doors will close right in front of your fingertips if you hesitate for even a second while the Bay’s Bart doors will stay open for stragglers. There’s a powerful air of inclusivity and diversity wherever you go, a homogeneous diversity that is quite literally the antithesis to the BAySIA. Workaholics work and work and work in air conditioned offices, sheltered from the hundred degree summer, and I work and work and work in unison. I walk home under the breathlessly temperamental thunderstorms that appear seemingly at random in this sweltering summer heat. People are, in general, more aggressive, more inclined to push you out of the way to get to their engagements on time. Yet strangers seem more willing to engage in spontaneous sidewalk conversations and the number of C-list Instagram celebrities I’ve managed to chat with is commendable.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more confused and lost and bewildered than when I landed in this foreign, but vaguely familiar place. But something is also telling me that at least some of the answers are impatiently waiting to be discovered here. Something is telling me I might even discover myself here, discover whatever’s been suppressed for so long and is waiting to emerge from my subconscious and manifest itself into a new me. So I guess my only option is to work a while, blindly live a while, steadfastly stay put a while because something so very new is on a collision course towards me. And I’m ready to collide.