Thursday, June 23, 2016
Leaving San Francisco
I'm sitting in my living room on the threadbare, dirty carpet. There are boxes all around me, the room is strewn with 9 years' worth of personal detritus that I lovingly collect, frame, display, and shove into forgotten drawers. Out of the picture window, framed like a neon light-up poster, are the cotton candy clouds illuminated by a solstice sun that is taking its sweet time slipping behind Twin Peaks. Bernal Hill is to the right, the giant cranes in the Oakland shipyards are directly across the bay, standing like monstrous trojan horses. The neighbor's weird chimney vent that looks like a knight's helmet and shakes its head (gently or vehemently, depending on the strength of the wind) is unmoving, staring just off to the left where the plum tree that reaches its branches against my window is slowly bearing fruit.
I have spent 9 years of my life in this place, in my own place filled with my things, with this view from not the apex, but the near-apex of the hill. A place that makes it difficult getting in and out of your car--the door will keep trying to slam on your calves as you climb out. Visitors nearly always enter the apartment breathless, even if they only parked across the street, their cheeks and lungs flush with new blood.
I have moved from nascent to fully-formed adulthood in this apartment. Age 24 - 33. A time period that took me through 3 jobs, 2 boyfriends, 9 roommates. Roommates that come and go as their lives take them to other cities, other apartments, other jobs. Dean, Julia, Tara, Alicia, Brooke, Lori, Ben, Wardell, Monica. Gone but not forgotten (although I wish I could forget Ben, the roommate who locked himself in his room drinking for 3 months and never bothered to wipe his pee off of the bathroom floor). I hold their presence with me as I pace through the empty rooms, down the narrow hallway. Their DNA must still somehow remain in the lead-based paint and the threadbare carpet.
I want to remember every detail of every thing that ever happened to me within these walls. I want to memorize the floor plan so that 10, 20, 30 years from now, when I am calling somewhere else home, I can still conjure up the details of this, my first apartment. I want to remember every sunset that I watched from the living room, momentarily stopping whatever I was doing (or more likely, watching) to take in the vibrant colors and expansive mural of the city. I want to remember conversations had and un-had, parties thrown, lazy evenings spent in total and complete relaxation. I want to remember the guy who walks his cat on a leash and is maddeningly un-humorous about it.
I am sentimental and to forget is anathema.
But change is inevitable, and whatever comes with this new chapter of my life, my non-San Francisco chapter (working title) will surely bring with it new things to be wistful and wax poetic about, so I really shouldn't be standing in what was the spare bedroom getting all misty-eyed. It's not like I have nowhere to go. I won't be homeless. I'll just be transient for a time, without a home of my own but not without a roof over my head.
And what is home anyway? How much does it really matter, to have a place filled with your shit that you return to at the end of the day and feel comfortable in? A place where the DVR is filled with your recordings, where the coffee grinder is right where you left it. Where time unfurls with an ease and predictability as comforting as pulling a warm fleece blanket around your shoulders when the June gloom sets in and the wind comes howling out of the west and sweeping down the hill. A place where you can walk around in your underwear and be ugly as you please.
All this is a roundabout way of admitting that I'm moving in with my parents for a time while I sort through the cognitive dissonance associated with being a textbook gentrifier who can't afford the city she helped gentrify. OH THE IRONY. I will miss this place.
Stay tuned for more adventures.