City Life

I’m not sure how many of you know, but I recently moved to San Francisco.  I never envisioned myself living here.  It’s cold year-round.  It’s dirty.  The traffic is TERRIBLE.  It’s loud.  There’s no parking anywhere.  People threaten to blow off other people’s mother f-ing heads loudly and in the middle of the street.  If you think driving here is bad, try riding your bike.  And if you’re from some other part of the Bay Area, you view the City as some sort of fascinating train-wreck, a place for tourists and crazies and people pretentious enough to say they live in THE City.  To channel Eddie Izzard, there are others, you know.  At any rate, it was the last place I saw myself.

So how did I get here?  Well, long story short, I’m a slave to my Bohemian ideals – Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love – and in this case, above all, Love.  I wanted the boy and the boy lives here.  So I moved.  And now I find myself in two situations I never really imagined for myself, at least not at this stage in the game.  And it’s…surprisingly…good.  While all of the above is still true about San Francisco, it does have its charm.  Each district has its own personality and community of sorts.  Right now I’m still trying to find places where I can be “a regular” – a good yoga studio that does desk trades, a place to teach my classes, a corner store where the owner knows what pack of gum I’m looking for, maybe even a bar where everyone knows my name (Nopa is rapidly becoming this place).  Plus, I admit, big city life is a huge change from rural Japan and thus a nice adventure.

Anyway, I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts while they were still fresh and new and novel, before they become routine:

On living with E:  It is shocking to me how little clothing he has.  His entire wardrobe takes up maybe three-quarters of a hallway closet, whereas mine requires a full-sized closet, a small dresser and a nightstand.  Sometimes the disparity makes me self-conscious, but then I do the laundry.  Somehow, despite three quarters of the clothes in the apartment being mine, three-quarters of the laundry is his.  It’s amazing, really, how quickly he fills up the hamper and even more amazing that he doesn’t run out of clothes doing this.

On driving:  I don’t care when you leave or by which road you attempt to leave by.  There is ALWAYS traffic.  ALWAYS.  And it magically dissipates once you leave the city’s borders.  It’s like there’s a law that there has to be bumper to bumper traffic within the city limits at all times.  Even on Sundays.  Even late at night or early in the morning.

On the bar we live above:  Honestly, it’s not that bad.  People shout over and sing off key to the music, which is terrible 75% of the time.  I would be more inclined to forgive them for both of these offenses if they at least served hard alcohol, but despite all this, it actually doesn’t keep me up at night.  And you know, 25% of the time they’re playing really cool music.

On my neighbors:  It’s different from a dorm in the sense that I don’t run into these people in the bathroom, but it has the dorm-like quality of not being very soundproof.  Every time someone takes a shower, comes up the stairs, fights (ack…someone had a really scary fight here that woke me up there other night) or gets it on (no, seriously), I hear it. In a way it’s kind of comforting – I never get lonely in the apartment and it’s kind of entertaining.

On cash and quarters: You know, I thought one of the great things about moving back to America was that I would be able to use my debit/credit card wherever I went, whenever I wanted. Not only does pretty much every place around here have minimums (some as high as $10), some places don’t take plastic AT ALL. In addition to having to carry around at least $10 in my wallet at all times (which is harder than it sounds), I also have to keep my purse stocked with quarters. Quarters for the laundry, quarters for the parking meters, quarters for Muni. I don’t have a beef with the parking meters (mostly because I would rather walk five blocks than use one), but when the laundromat and Muni charge you more than $1 to use them, I don’t understand why they don’t take dollar bills (in all fairness, only underground Muni only accepts quarters). The other day when I was doing the laundry, I cleaned out the change in my ash tray and asked the guy at the gas station to convert my dimes, nickels and pennies into quarters. He was less than pleased.

On Patxi’s: We don’t know how to say it and we don’t care. $1 PBRs unceremoniously dropped on our table is all that matters.

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2 Responses to City Life

  1. A lot of this sounds very familiar!!

    In response to that first paragraph, I worked in SF (and tried living there…but that’s a part of my life I’d like to erase) for a year and half before going to Japan, and I was completely fed up with it. The lack of parking or decency, the bad smells everywhere (especially on the Muni…oh God, my Muni stories), the perpetual traffic.

    I also remember stressing about quarters. Many a time I put in the $1 bill because I didn’t have enough quarters.

    Isn’t it interesting that guys (making a gross over-generalization here) tend to go through clothes faster and have more to wash? But to be fair, I’m XX-small so I just don’t have much STUFF to wash.

    It’s good to know you’ve found redeeming things about SF. I’m probably just too much of an inaka personality at heart for that to happen. Good luck with life in “the city”! There’s good and bad, but regardless I have to say it’s one of the most unique places to live in the States.

  2. Kim says:

    Glad you’re adjusting to the city! I’ll try to blog soon and update on what’s up around here. I haven’t written a real email in awhile 😛

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