I have lived in San Francisco for the past four and a half years. This city has a very special place in my heart. Grant and I do plan on moving back to the Bay Area after our Spain adventure, but I have the need now to find some closure to my time spent here.
Here’s me when I first arrived:
I spent a good part of my 20’s in SF. Living here, I found a little family of other people like me in a Friends-like apartment building, I got my first job, and I got married. I grew into myself as an adult and made choices (and mistakes) that were all my own.
Why SF is special, though, transcends me growing up here: it is special because in SF, anything (and everything) is possible. Some people even call it Neverland. I have to admit that at first, this was off-putting for me. I remember judging people for not feeling like they needed to follow what I considered “the responsible (or considerate?) thing”. That’s the whole deal with freedom, though – there isn’t just one path. And even if you do choose the well-worn path, you know there are other choices and paths. There is a pervasive feeling of freedom and exploration in this city, and it is like no other place I’ve ever been. There is energy in the air that says “whatever you want to do, you can do it”. I truly believe that is why the start-up culture here is so huge. And why everyone here has at least two job titles: web designer by day and DJ by night. 🙂 All of the little quirks of San Francisco (like the Seward street slides or the world’s biggest leather event) add up to a place where possibility and diversity are embraced. And it turns out, I love that. It has opened me up in so many ways.
For me personally, this “anything is possible” meant: moving out here without a job and having faith that I would find one, learning and performing hip hop dance, camping and backpacking for the first time, creating crazy-themed parties like a bike ice cream crawl and macaroni and cheese party, learning to ski, cycling over 130 miles over two days, forging and making my own wedding band… and you guessed it, taking the leap to move to Spain.
Ironically, the thing I love so much about SF is empowering me to move to Spain.
Before I leave, I am visiting 5 of my favorite places today and taking in as much SF as I can, while I can. I’m going on a goodbye tour!
I’m also leaving 5 notes around the city with some cash for others to experience parts of my goodbye tour themselves. I’m asking people who find the letters to take a picture of themselves enjoying the food or activity. We’ll see if I get any responses! I was very inspired by this love letter project and this 3D printing project, so I’ll be following suit.
My top 5 places to visit today:
This store has a special place in my heart, because Grant and I discovered them while they were still a pop-up operation inside of Ken-ken ramen. We got to be a part of their journey and see them grow into a business with multiple locations. They still have the best boba tea I have ever tasted!
Think you could never live without meat or cheese? Eat at Gracias Madre, and I will assure you that you will walk away believing you could be a vegan. This is the best vegan food I have ever tasted and is solidly my favorite restaurant in San Francisco.
Secret breakfast….an ice cream flavor? Whisky and corn flakes? Whaaa? This place has the most unique and delicious ice cream flavors. It holds a special place in my heart because it was the first stop on my bike ice cream crawl birthday a few years ago. We hit up about 5 different ice cream places on our bikes.
As some of you may be aware, coffee is serious business in San Francisco. Find out more here from this mocumentary. Some may say you have to try out Blue Bottle or Four Barrel, but if you really want a fun SF experience, you have to go for Philz. When I first moved to the city, I looked at an apartment right next to Philz, and I am always brought back to that time when I go in. The iced mojito drink is definitely my favorite here…but I have to admit, by this time in the journey, I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach, so no coffee for me – just a visit!
This is probably the least-known place on this list to most people. It is a “dance accessories” store on Valencia that is easy to overlook. But let me tell you, I love this store! They carry amazing things here for so cheap – like a french fries t-shirt, stretchy pants with cats with lasers, and googly-eyed glasses. Here were a few items I had to pass up on my visit today:
Since we are traveling a long ways, I decided on a simple ring to add to my collection:
I had fun distributing 5 letters out to random places, inviting people to participate…here’s a peak at a few letters hiding around the Mission:
We will wait and see if I get any responses from the letters (I encouraged people to snap photos of themselves enjoying their treat!)
UPDATE: I got one response! YAY! See the pic below: