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The San Francisco I Remember, is Gone Forever

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By Justine Hall

It has been three years since Iʼve been home. I moved away due to soaring rent and cost of living, like many others who grew up in San Francisco.

With all the craziness of the last year and a half, I have found myself terribly homesick.

I have taken to reminiscing about my time growing up in the city by the bay. Knowing all too well how much it will have changed when I do finally have a chance to visit home.  Desperately hoping that there will still be things I can link to my memories of that beautiful city.

As I write this so much has come flooding back. Itʼs almost overwhelming.

McKinley elementary sf

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I remember walking to school at McKinley elementary with my mom. We always stopped at Courtneyʼs for a sandwich and a red bell pepper for my lunch.
The kids at school thought I was weird, but I could play a mean game of kickball so my weirdness was tolerated.

I remember running around the lower Haight with a giant pack of kids.  Stopping at various houses in the neighborhood for snacks and a check-in with
an adult, it didnʼt matter who. Daring each other to jump off the bathroom at Duboce park (that was never open) into the sand below. Itʼs a wonder nobody
ever broke anything.

I remember trips to Guerneville in the 70ʼs Scout with no top, holding onto the dog who kept trying to bite the semis as they passed by on the two lane
highway out to the river. The time my Momʼs car broke down on the way home from Davis and her boyfriend had to rig the belt to get us home while we boiled
in the heat at some podunk gas station.

I remember meeting the friends I would end up having to this day. A dysfunctional group of punks and artists. Having shows at thirteen years old
that the JCC would put on. The music was terrible but we didnʼt care. Hopping BART eight deep to the end of the line, to see a show at a run down warehouse in one of the seedier corners of Richmond. (RIP Burnt Ramen.) Drinking too many 40ʼs in the Box and getting kicked out of Gilman for being too rowdy. Ah,
the good old days.

Burnt Ramen, Richmond CA

I remember buying a dub sack we all pitched in for, from a sketchy hippie in Golden Gate park. Recruiting the home bums on Haight St. to buy us beer at Franksʼs Liquor. The elderly man at the liquor store that used to be across the street from Dolores Park that would sell you single cigarettes and beer if you knew how to act. The old man got in trouble so many times.

As I got older, into my late teens and early twenties, I fell into the subversive lifestyle of train hopping and traveling the country. I met amazing people and
saw almost the entire United States. Yet, I always came home. Once a year, I would travel back to Northern California to weed world, work then spend most of the winter bumming around SF and enjoying being in civilization with actual money in my pocket.

Six years ago I moved home for good. Things were so different. Places I had frequented since I was a kid were gone. But I was happy for what was still there.
Most of my friends had moved away, but there was a handful that are still staples every time I come home. I struggled to find housing, but it happened and I stayed. Bartending and working in the kitchen at Stow Lake Boathouse.

But things were too different and changing so rapidly, it made me dizzy. After three years struggling to survive, I couldnʼt do it anymore. San Francisco was
irreversibly changed and I felt more and more like a tourist in my own home town. The sadness I felt when I drove across the Golden Gate knowing it would
be the last time I would ever live in SF was palpable. And I donʼt think I will ever get over it.

The place I grew up in was very much a distant memory. I still love San Francisco with all my heart and one can definitely say I left a good chunk of it
there.

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