Love in the Time of Housing Crisis

Updated: Nov 01, 2021 10:22
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This originally appeared in my Broke-Ass City column for the San Francisco Examiner 

San Francisco is a wonderful place to fall in love. Sure, Paris might be the “City of Love,” but anyone who calls it that has never walked up Columbus Avenue, arm in arm with their sweetheart, as Coit Tower winked at them from above.

In our city, multihued buildings sprout from undulating hills like spring flower stalks reaching toward heaven. Fog quietly creeps in like a lover softly padding into the bedroom from the kitchen to join you under the covers for just 15 more minutes of sleep. The Bay and the ocean embrace each other so deeply beneath the Golden Gate Bridge it’s as if they’re trying to say, “Look, we still got that spark after all these years.”

When you find someone whose inner jinn sings the same song as yours, The City rewards you and manages to shine just a little brighter than before. Yes, San Francisco is a city of romance and beauty. What a remarkable place to fall in love.

This week marks a year from when Kayla and I had our first date. That night, we tumbled through Mission Street dive bars, high on booze and pheromones, flirting our way toward our first kiss right beneath a heat lamp in El Rio’s backyard. A week or so later, we found ourselves at the Wave Organ, chaperoned by a bottle of Jameson, leaning into each other’s stories, telling them laughingly, until we ended up singing loud songs beneath the dome at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Falling in love is always glorious, but doing so in San Francisco is breathtaking. It’s like The City cheers you on. Even when times are tough and it feels like you keep hitting roadblocks, San Francisco encourages you by saying, “I may be mean and unforgiving, but don’t I make you feel beautiful?”

It’s not as easy as it sounds though …

Ask anyone who’s single in San Francisco, and they’ll tell you finding that spark with someone feels impossible. From Tinder to Teslas and bitcoin to booty calls, it can feel like everyone is too busy working or playing to let love in. And while falling for someone has always been both brave and precarious, only in San Francisco must you worry that your new darling might get evicted at any time. But even then, it’s still worth it.

Sure, it might just be limerence, that chemical explosion in the brain that causes young people to do foolish things and emboldens bards to sing passionate songs. And, yes, even Fresno probably seems buoyant when you’ve met someone who fills your chest cavity with Motown music. But Fresno doesn’t have deep kisses with a luminous view outside the Legion of Honor. Paris doesn’t have sandy September hand-holding at Ocean Beach. That T-shirt might say “Virginia is for Lovers” but the person wearing it never ambled down Haight Street with their fingers in the back pocket of their favorite human’s jeans.

So I’ll take San Francisco’s blessings and I’ll thank her for them profusely. I’ll walk down Mission Street on my way to Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack holding Kayla’s hand as we laugh at inside jokes and feel The City’s radiance. Falling in love in San Francisco is a marvelous thing, and celebrating a year of it is even better. I hope all of you find what you’re looking for, whatever that might be.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.