Have this perception of San Francisco as being this giant cloud of love. People must do lots of acid, hug each other in the streets and be really really happy. Move to the city and quickly discover that the only people still doing acid have been tripping for thirty years. They hang out in the upper Haight, which is like Times Square for hippies, and hang out with teenage runaways and their ten dogs.
San Francisco is a city where the beautiful and ugly coexist. The projects are situated next to a multi-million dollar Full House home. You’ll pay $1300 a month in rent in the Mission for a view of two crackheads shooting up in an alleyway. This unlikely marriage of destitute poverty and bourgie princess creates a tension in the city that is alternately terrifying and exhilarating.
Never eat so well and so affordably in your life. Laugh when people suggest that Los Angeles or New York have the best food. Um, have they been to the Slanted Door or Pancho Villa? New York can’t even do Mexican food. That alone disqualifies it from the competition. San Francisco can master any kind of cuisine and it can do it on a budget.
Be shocked by how much weed is smoked in San Francisco. It’s perhaps more popular than smoking cigarettes. Understand that everyone is on drugs in San Francisco, but they’re also a weird health nut. People take bong rips and go to yoga. They’ll do hallucinogens and then go on the Master Cleanse to purify their body. This contradictory lifestyle may be confusing but you can’t really question it. After all, this is San Francisco. People pay high rents to be…high.
Get frustrated by the tiny size of the city. Feel like it’s the biggest small town you’ve ever lived in. Run into everyone you know when you go out. Spend time at the same bars making out with the same people. Start to feel a little bored and get embarrassed about it. You’re living in San Francisco! How could you be getting restless? There’s so much to see, so much to do, so many joints to smoke in Dolores Park. What is wrong with you?
Live in the Sunset district and laugh at the irony of it being one of the few places in the city that never gets any sun. Have a schizophrenic chase you down the street for a dollar. Be surrounded by mentally ill drug addicts 24/7 and feel a pit begin to develop in your stomach. Go to the Marina on accident and marvel at the amount of rich baby girl brats who must’ve lost their way to L.A. Think to yourself, “This is the neighborhood for the people who don’t make sense in San Francisco.”
As frustrating as it can be, understand that there is something truly magical about SF. The city casts a spell over you and even in the moments when you totally hate it, you’re still like, “I’m obsessed with you, you stoner freak of a city.”
Know that your time here is running out. You want to move to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles or New York. You just need a change. San Francisco can’t be the last stop for you. Promise yourself that you’ll move back eventually when you’re older and want something more mellow, and 70% believe it. When you tell people you lived in San Francisco, they will say “OMG, I’ve just always loved that city. I feel like I could live there.” The city gets no bad reviews from visitors. You mention L.A. or New York and some people will be like. “Nope. Not for me.” San Francisco, however, always elicits a positive response. Laugh to yourself because you know these people will never live there. They just saw it in movies and pop culture like you did and fell in love with it. To live in San Francisco is to know the complete clashing picture. You loved it though. You’re going to move back at, like, 30. Yeah. That sounds like a good age to live in San Francisco. 30.