Alive in San Francisco.

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Castro Street, San Francisco. Source: www.tomtomhb.wordpress.com

It’s difficult to describe what it is that makes a city entrance a person. For me, San Francisco truly is a special place. I can never quite put my finger on what it is that makes me so utterly and unconditionally in love with it. Whatever I am about to say regarding this little place in space and time can never be enough. Words simply fail to capture the beauty that naturally arises in almost every street in this part of northern California.

There is so much to mention that I feel guilty for leaving anything out. I could talk about the vistas that can be enjoyed by walking up to one of the countless hills and looking at the colourful houses. I can speak about the odors that makes you somehow feel relaxed, or the calmness of the pace of life that makes you enjoy this exact moment. I can’t even begin to talk about the people.

Oh my, the people of this place. All weird, all likable. It is not simply that they are polite or fashionable.  It isn’t that they are ‘cultured’ that makes me like them.  It is that they have an air of genuineness about them. It is the little things that they do which makes them so endearing. When they say ‘Have a nice day’, they seem to really, truly,  want you to indeed have a nice day. When talking to someone in San Francisco, you can rest assured that this person will accept you. It’s OK if you are a so called failure. For them, being out of place or confused is perfectly acceptable. If you happen to like wearing a pink wig with colourful striped trousers, then that is exactly what you should wear. A true San Franciscan doesn’t even bat an eyelid. To them you are just another person, another human being. Just like them.

The thing is, I don’t even feel like I am romanticizing this place. I understand that this is a subjective experience and that there are always exceptions to the rule. It’s not like San Francisco is a utopia. Real issues exist here too. It is extremely expensive, social justice warriors are all over the place, they have a massive homeless population (for complicated reasons – they apparently help them out more than any other city).  Gentrification is a real problem here. However, this takes nothing away from the beauty of this place. It is home to those that are creative, different, hopeful. Those people that dare to dream big and want to add colour to the world. These people make life a wonderful experience, they make the world a much brighter place.

I have never truly felt at home anywhere in the world. It isn’t easy to feel at home, because home to me means a place where you relate to the culture. It should be a place where you feel safe, where you imagine being old. Where simply walking around brings you joy. That is what I feel like this magical place offers. Home.

One of the most distinct features of this city is the simple happiness that people around here appear to have. Like dancing on the street for no apparent reason. If you ask why? The response (after a confused look) would be ‘why not?’. Life here is to be enjoyed. Why not make all houses colourful, or have free parking on the weekend, or have a random festival called ‘How Weird’, where they celebrate the strange, the diverse and the different. Seeing a naked old guy with his penis hanging out is so normal here that it simply just adds to the whole atmosphere. You’ll think ‘Yep, that’s exactly right. That guy should do exactly what he is doing’.

It is not that the naked old guy is appealing to people, but it’s the fact that he’s doing something that hurts no one. He isn’t stopping anyone else from doing their ‘weird’ thing.  And that’s the only rule. Do whatever you want, just don’t stop anyone else from doing what they want to do.

In my young adult life, I have never felt more affection for a city than I have for San Francisco. I would say I even feel protective over it. I want to protect this crucible of creativity, where innovation and human progress is generated.  Unfortunately, my time in this place of sleepless wonder is coming to an end. I am not sure when I will come back. But that’s OK. Home is a place you always return to, and my life is still unfolding. There are other earthly places that I want to explore.

I am so grateful for the opportunity granted to me by the universe. To have been given a chance to add San Francisco to my repertoire of experiences, because that’s what San Francisco is, an experience. It is a  weird, wonderful, exciting and marvelously colourful experience.