Dear San Francisco,
We met when I was twenty-two and just out of college. You were hip and dynamic and a little dangerous – nothing like the cities I’d gotten used to growing up on the east coast. I liked you immediately. Your limitless energy and the seemingly endless array of new experiences (Critical Mass, Bay to Breakers, Big Wheels) you could offer up made every day exciting and fresh. I couldn’t imagine having more fun
But then our honeymoon gave way to reality, and the key differences in our core personalities began to show. All those things on which we didn’t see eye to eye that started off as pesky annoyances ultimately became deal breakers. You never could fully address my distaste for playing “Will I or Won’t I be Shanked By That Bum?” every time I left the house. I could never deal with your utter inability to make a decision even hour to hour about what weather you wanted to display. Of course, there was a lot of good stuff — the trivia nights, the amazing food, the awesome friends, the ability to keep my butt and legs toned simply by walking a few blocks — that made me stick around, but after four years I knew it was time to call it quits.
I never stopped thinking about you, though, and now seeing you again after all this time has brought back those happy memories. It makes me nostalgic and question just a little if might be worth giving things another go. I can certainly see that you’ve tried to become what I always wanted. You’re more reliable than you were when we were last together — NextMuni’s “arriving in 2 minutes” now actually yields a bus in 2 minutes, not 60. You’re warmer than you used to be — literally, 70 degrees at the Fillmore Jazz Festival in (the normally frigid) July. You seem less volatile, too – I’ve spent over a week here without a single frightening encounter with an overly aggressive homeless person. Could things be different if I came back? Could we could actually make it work this time?
But as I walked to the bus last night, breathing fog and shivering in my t-shirt in the 50 degree air (which, mere hours before, had been 75 degrees), a rat ran across my foot and a man with a shopping cart full of old electronics and newspapers swore at me. And I knew you hadn’t really changed in a sustainable way. You tried, but we still face all the same issues. You can’t alter who you are for me, and I wouldn’t want you too.
I’ll always love you, SF, but we are not right for each other. You deserve a resident who doesn’t want you to change and who relishes your inconsistencies and loves you as you are, and I deserve a city where I don’t need a black market to access plastic bags or foie gras. But I’ll always look back on our time together fondly and with gratitude that I had the chance to know you and for the lasting richness, color and frequent and unexpected nudity you brought to my life.