You Can Never Go Home Again: San Francisco in 2015
The Infamous Arrow Bar (Image taken from Yelp)
I lived in San Francisco back when I used to puke a lot. And pee in alleys. Be it, cuz I was drunk, or high – my glory days – I would find myself in front of the Arrow Bar with some other lost teens/twenty-somethings, pontificating on how successful we would be because of our ______ (useless idea or talent) and shouldn’t we all collaborate on something? “Yes, let’s go back to ______’s house and talk about it until 6am.” It wasn’t bad, because we could do that, if we wanted. And some people’s delusions led them onto really successful careers, I think (maybe). Sure it got, dark. But you were able to do that there, back then. You were able to be delusional and dream and be hopeful and still pay your rent.
I still love the city for what it was, one time – a time that, upon visiting last weekend, I realized couldn’t feel further away. San Francisco wasn’t always dodging Google Glass wearers, Ubers, and your landlord cuz you don’t have the $1600 to pay for the room you share with three other people. It was a hub of cool weirdos with awkward haircuts and seven different jobs. It was a place where it was possible to pay $550 for a room in the mission with only two other roommates. It was home to probably the 800 best burrito joints in the world. It was one of the very first places I ever ruined my life, but it was strange and fun and original and diverse and nothing like it is now.
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I used to be promiscuous in my re-location, when I lived there. Who cared? I could jump back and forth, from neighborhood to neighborhood, depending on what I thought I was into. I lived in every part of San Francisco, minus the Tenderloin and Hunter’s Point. (Couldn’t do it.) My boxes were rarely unpacked. That was the beauty of the city – it encouraged lackadaisical commitment phobia, offering it’s tiny square mileage up to you every time you pissed off somebody new, or vice-versa. Going through a break-up? You had a friend who’s roommate just got accepted to art school or something and needed a roommate, and the landlord never knew they were there anyway so don’t worry about a deposit. Things were always changing; people were always shifting and moving because you could quit your corporate job to pursue your dream of painting while working as a barista, if you wanted. Things were always changing, because you were allowed to, and they were allowed to, because everything wasn’t the most expensive thing in the world.
I still know some of the originals, there. The few who have held onto rent control for dear life, or who had the connections to get a place after getting sick of New York, and didn’t realize what it had become. Every time I visit, I feel weird the whole time. There’s this unspoken misanthropic tinge to whatever we do. We try and ignore the Disney version of our once-beloved dive bars, and pretend we don’t notice the USB outlets in places we sometimes used to be scared to even go into. It’s a heartbreaker in 2015, our freezing little city by the bay. Like running into your favorite ex, and now they’re a drooling junky. Or realizing your favorite pet has died of old age.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun and it was all right and you could do what you wanted and it was ours. Now it’s theirs, I guess. Forever.