I have lived in San Francisco for over seven years. It occurred to me the other day that that's about how long the wizarding students are at Hogwarts. In many ways, it does feel like I arrived in SF and was handed my wand and robes. Indeed, there is much magical crazy here.
Of course, among the most obvious ways to extend the metaphor, well...there's no question that SF is still the liberal bastion it became in the 60s and 70s, and that George W. Bush -- who'd been in office less than a year when I arrived -- was and has been treated as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. This is truly the land of the liberal, where San Francisco Republicans are at best treated as Slytherins, at worst like Death Eaters, and I am glad I stayed here long enough to see the Dark Lord defeated.
But its liberalness is only one facet, albeit a considerable one, of why I felt I belonged here.
The night I arrived in San Francisco, I was with El_Gallo. We had just driven in from a cross-country trip, and I was equal parts fatigued and thrilled. After searching for parking -- a SF ritual for sure -- we got to El_G's building where his across-the-hall neighbor and former college buddy, Matt, was waiting for us. Matt was positioned at the lobby's balcony, arms spread wide, and when we opened the door he launched into a made-up song and dance called something like "Welcome To San Francisco." We threw our stuff down in El_G's apartment and spent the rest of the evening with Matt and his friend, who were listening to 80s Bon Jovi while trying on various wigs and outfits in preparation for Matt's first drag show where he'd be debuting "Suzie Fabulous." Matt and his friend smoked some pot, El_G and I drank some delicious Muscato, and I couldn't have been happier.
It was a perfect beginning.
It took my three days to find an apartment.
The rest of the timeline...well, it wasn't as swift. But to be fair, I wasn't just learning "San Francisco" when I got here. I was trying to figure out what I'd be doing with the rest of my life, seeing as Plan A had failed so spectacularly.
I started out with an "I'll just figure it out as I go along" attitude, because I had no other choice. I maintained that attitude for years because I wanted to, and SF let me.
It took about three weeks for me to acquire enough furniture (and Internet) to actually start living in my own place. I had taken my at-home job with me, so my days were spent primarily in my apartment, which I adored. I had my own cute space with my own cute stuff and my own city view, and I loved and relished every second of it.
But working inside one's apartment doesn't lend itself to meeting new people easily. Nor does being emotionally distraught. For all its absolute gloriousness and therapeutic wonders, I lost my mom in June of 2002, and San Francisco could only do so much; grieving is grieving.
Although it turns out that piano bars help a whole lot.
Things fell into place, but they took time. I was in SF for a full two years (and living with El_G for one of them) before I'd started to cultivate non-borrowed friends, around the summer of 2003.
It took another full year before I'd actually start working full-time in an actual, normal job at an actual (though not quite "normal") office. Which is the same time -- January of 2004 -- I started the a cappella group.
Half a year later, El_G and I broke up, and I moved again to my own place -- my fourth apartment in as many years.
A few months after that, in January of 2005, I started this blog.
In August, I met Ish.
It's been a crazy, rollicking, fun-filled and -- yes, forgive me -- magical time here, full of twists and turns I never foresaw. The most amazing aspect of the last seven-plus years has been that, at NO point, could I have told you where I'd be six months from where I was.
It never felt like anyone in San Francisco ever expected me to.