My son was a colicky baby, wailing for hours and up before dawn. To comfort him—and escape our cramped apartment—we would take long walks. Fortifying coffee in hand and baby in pouch, I’d scale Folsom Street and then spiral up to Bernal Heights, where we could find nature without leaving San Francisco. Once I saw an owl gripping a branch, looking back at us with agate eyes. We kept up the ritual after the fussy baby turned into a happier toddler, and we would walk side by side. Max was just 2 when he surveyed the view and said, “Our city.” Some people argue that SF is no place to raise a kid, but I’ve always felt differently.
It’s the classic San Francisco story. In your early 20s, you leave home—some flyover state you’d just as soon forget—and move west, without a plan, which is the point. You stop where Interstate 80 stops, right on the edge of the continent, and unpack the U-Haul into a cramped room in a draughty flat in the Mission or the Lower Haight or the Outer Sunset. You share the space with roommates you’ve never met, work some meaningless job to pay the rent, and use the remaining hours to make art, or fantasize about making art, or just roam around the city, marveling at its fairy-tale beauty and strangeness—and at the fact that you get to call it home.
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