The Ten Year Anniversary of My Return to San Francisco
This post has nothing to do with Muni, the MTA, the recent news about said entities, the drama of transit in wake of the election, or anything like that, so be patient and later this week we'll be back to the Usual Stuff, ok?
This week marks a unique milestone for me, personally - it's the 10th anniversary of my return to San Francisco. I'd spent the previous 10 years primarily in Seattle, where I'd moved for a temporary job working on a US Senate campaign, and ended up staying there for over 6 years. My return to San Francisco, however was not planned, nor was it predetermined that my trip in November 2000 would end up with me returning here.
A bit of backstory: it comes as shock to my non-native friends that I spent as much time as possible getting as far away from here as possible after high school. I went away to school, and I later moved to Washington, D.C. thinking I might like it there (it sucks!), and ended up moving to Seattle in the 1990s, during that whole Seattle hype thing. Seattle in the 90s still had some residual qualities of Old Seattle that I liked, and it was cheap to live there, so I stayed. It was nice at the time, but by 2000 it was starting to get more expensive, the traffic sucked, and I was getting a bit restless.
Then I got a call from a colleague in town the day after the election. I'd made enough money running state legislative campaigns up north to take some time off, and perhaps take a much-needed vacation, when he asked me if I'd come to San Francisco and work on a runoff campaign for Supervisor. I was offered a nice pile of cash, and the promise of a place to live (during the Great Dot Com Blowout of the time) in of all places, Chinatown. I figured it'd be a fun paid vacation, I might see some friends, so I packed up my car and drove to San Francisco, figuring I'd return back to Seattle once I was done.
Looking back, I can't believe how different things were. No Twitter. No "blogs" (at least none I was writing). No "smartphone." No Muni (I only took Muni on weekends, I had a car dammit). And, no idea what I wanted to do next. So a paid trip to SF with benefits sounded pretty darn good.
After the initial shock in a "OMG George Bailey in Pottersville" kind of way about what happened to SF, I quickly settled in and spent most of my time working, naturally. But every so often I'd have time off, and there was that moment when I was walking to work on Columbus and was wearing regular clothes in late November and some woman said to me "my GOD you must be freezing?" and I looked at her and said "I was like you once, a native who bundled up when it was 60 degress...I've lived in places far colder and crappier and trust me, this is EXCELLENT weather!"
It was at that moment I began to question why I continued to stay somewhere that I wasn't really enjoying as much as I did in 1994, for many reasons we don't need to get into here. I also wondered why it was I spent so much time and energy getting so far away from a place that was actually quite nice. So, after my time was up and I had to go back to Seattle, I began to make plans to close down operations at my house up in West Seattle (the Sunset of Seattle, and the best part, frankly) and took a chance on coming back home.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Through all the ups and downs, I'm glad I'm back. I still enjoy visiting Seattle and visiting friends up there, and there were plenty of good times, but all in all, coming back to SF after staying away so long is something I'd never change, no matter what.