Ten years on

Ten years and two days ago, I gave my mom a hug in the driveway of her home in Silver Spring, got into my 1996 ‘Bob Marley’ Saturn sedan (named thusly because of the Bob Marley sticker that covered the insignia on the back, and of course my obsession with Bob Marley that shamelessly continues to this day), and began my migration to San Francisco, California. For 15 days I chased the setting sun, stopping along the way to visit various national treasures: my sister, Sedona, etc.

When I could drive no further, when the vast expanse of the Pacific stopped my westward journey, I came to rest in Berkeley, Ca. My first apartment was a tiny, dark, dank shithole on the northside of Berkeley. The building was owned by a soon-to-be nefarious international slavetrader/pimp/slumlord called Lakireddy Bali Reddy. The building sucked. In the most beautiful, sunny, cheery place one could dream of, my apartment had no windows, no ventilation, and only occasional hot water.

But none of that mattered to me. I was in Berkeley, California! I moved out here mostly because I wanted to – I loved the weather, the scenery and the life style. In my mid twenties, I was a radical intellectual (in my mind, if not my heart), yet I hadn’t found any radical thinkers or ideas that truly resonated with our contemporary predicament.

Naively, I imagined I would find fresh ideas in this hotbed of leftist ideology. I even knew where to look when I got here: the cafes of Berkeley and San Francisco. Ha ha. I arrived here February 17th, 1999. It was not yet March when I truly understood how wrong I was about this. Indeed, one of the first casualties of my life in California was my intellectual idealism. Gone was radicalism, revolution, anarchy. In was pragmatism, political moderation, even a touch of conservatism. I could waste your time describing my youthful political machinations, but I won’t. Suffice to say that black and white became shades of gray. A year or two later, I moved across the bay to San Francisco, and have lived a life I never would have imagined or could have lived in my previous environs.

The point of my post isn’t to talk about me and how I’ve changed living here. I want to pay brief homage to this magical place. I’ve been here for ten years, and a week has not passed where I don’t marvel at my great fortune to live in this city, region and state. I’m serious. I fucking love this place. There is something about the way the rolling hills meet the water, the crisp blue of the sky, the contrast of the shadows, the way the fog pushes into the bay and shrouds the city, the smells and sounds of this place.

I am a single man, but I know what love is. Love is being willing to die for your lover, even when she is pissing down rain and throwing nasty crack whores at you every half block. Love is being grateful for another day with the life you have. Love is being unable to express your gratitude in words and gestures, no matter how hard you try. Love is pulling away, but coming back again. Love is declaring your love, in public, and perpetuity for all to hear and record.

That’s how I feel about where I live. I have my gripes and criticisms about this city, but I fucking love this place. I was at dinner earlier tonight, and was expressing my affection for this city to a total stranger. He responded rather wryly, “well, look at you and your civic pride.” Indeed. But, ten years on, I can say it’s all true. This is my city, and I love it unconditionally. Is that weird? If so, you clearly don’t live here you poor, pathetic bastard!!

SF Photos from friends on Flickr:

SF Night lights

SF Night lights

Theo In The Sun

Theo In The Sun

copyright Willotoons LLC

copyright Willotoons LLC

These hearts irritate the crap out of me.

These hearts irritate the crap out of me.

SF Sunrise

SF Sunrise

26 responses to “Ten years on”

  1. Thanks for the pictures — I love SF though I don’t get there very often anymore. (last time was probably 5 years ago.) Wonderful city for walking around in.

  2. lane says:

    that’s really cool.

    i feel the same way about new york in general,

    and park slope in particular!

    (isn’t it just fuckin’ great to have come from somewhere and to have gone somewhere else? SO american!)

  3. park slope in particular!

    Lane, you need to get this shirt.

  4. Rogan says:

    Hmmm… I’m a couple of years shy of 10 here in Los Angeles, and though I have to say I really really like this city, and might even end up shacking up with her for the long haul, I still wonder some times if I haven’t settled for less. Brooke, you are lucky.

  5. lane says:

    yeah we know the backlash shit. we moved here when it was park slop.

    and we don’t give a shit. “just like the suburbs” my ASS. yeah, park slope and orange county. get a clue.

    there’s probably tons of shit to hate about the slope. so?! why, i have some good friends that STILL put up a spirited defense of MANHATTAN!

    Talk about indefensible!

    (second-city issues admitted, out on the table . . . ok!?)

  6. Marleyfan says:

    Who wouldn’t love a fellow Marleyfan, especially the shameless kind..

    And your definition of love- perfect.

  7. goy ahoy says:

    Manhattan: Like Park Slope but without the commute.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I’m jealous of all you folks that get to or got to live in SF….

    And, yes, I agree–your sis is a national treasure.

  9. lane says:

    goy ahoy,

    Brooklyn: Like Manhattan w/o the looky loos?

    (second city issues admitted, i mean, i’d never want to SHOW in Brooklyn, just live here.)

  10. swells says:

    you. are. killing. me.

  11. LP says:

    Ahhh… Theo in the sun! I like a good stretchy-cat photo. Also, I love that you’re so openly besotted with SF! I’m sure the city is blushing.

    I’d ask for a shout-out for fabulous West Hollywood, but I’m guessing there’s not that much love in this crowd for LA. Yet as I sit in a charming cafe, still in my shorts and t-shirt from morning tennis, I have to admit, there’s a hell of a lot to like here.

  12. lane says:

    11. and this is what is really cool about such a big politically bounded nation.

    I can say, I’m sure you like it there. It’s so western. And you in turn can say “i’m sure you like it THERE!” it’s so eastern.

    That was my point about “so american”

    “Go west young man and grow with the nation”

    “I’m goin’ back to New York City, I do believe, I’ve had, ENOUGH!”

  13. “I’m goin’ back to New York City, I do believe, I’ve had, ENOUGH!”

    “So long, New York… Howdy, East Orange!”

  14. lane says:

    or brooklyn

  15. Hey Lane, want to come eat tacos with me and Dave on Saturday BTW? Sunset Park is the place to be.

  16. lane says:

    that could be cool.

    i was just there, some of those shops look really cool.

    5th ave?

  17. Tim says:

    The whole time I was reading this I was thinking, “Poor Swells.” Also Godfree, but Swells mainly.

  18. Yeah, we were going to meet at the 45th street station on the R. Have not set a time yet.

  19. Dave says:

    Oh yeah. Anyone who wants to come eat tacos on Saturday, email me.

  20. LP says:

    I want to come!

  21. Dave says:

    So email me.

  22. Natasha says:

    Brooke, I loved your post. I can so understand your love for the place, where you live. I live in Orange County, and it’s not my favorite place in the world (mainly because of the people). I chose a city, which has the best environment and schools for my children, for now, it is more about them than me.

    There are a few places though, I have visited or lived in, which were so dear to my heart. One of them is SanFran, where I am still thinking of moving to, eventually. It’s my get-away city. Whenever I need to think, I pack up some stuff and drive. I know I am getting close, when I get all the good radio stations. I drive straight through, because I can’t wait to see the lights and feel its spirit; and live on clam chowder and walk the busy streets.

    Marina Del Rey, where I used to live, is another (LP, I’m crazy about LA!) I use any chance I get to drive up there and open the windows, and listen, and breathe the air. Smog or not, there is nothing sweeter than LA air.
    Honolulu, Paris, and London are on my wish list too. Some day…

  23. lane says:

    c! it’s all about the citi!

    America in the 21st century, let our cities rise!


  24. Jane says:

    I love me some San Francisco and I’m jealous of anyone who gets to live there.

  25. Jon D'Agostino says:

    happy anniversary, my brother. you make me wanna move, mang.