Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Loft on Haight

EG and I started looking for new places to live weeks before our lease was up, so we wouldn't have to stay one day longer than necessary.

Once I wrote about the time I literally threw myself through the wall in the hallway outside our apartment. On my birthday. I didn't mean to. I meant to give EG a hug but I tripped, gained falling-down momentum, and next thing you know I was crumpled in a heap with half of me IN the wall and the other half of me on top of my foot. Quite a feat. The story is here, along with a picture of a very, very, very bruised buttocks.

Following my fall, I spent six weeks unable to do much of anything because uncoordinated people can't use crutches very well ESPECIALLY not in a city with sidewalks like San Francisco's. I spent most of my days wheeling myself around on my office chair.

My right foot is still much larger than my left.

The point is, our Sutter St. apartment didn't have good juju. No. It had mosquitoes and bad juju.

When I first started looking for new places, we were searching for two-bedroom apartments. I was working more hours and we could afford a slightly more rent. Except "slightly more rent" did not equate to NICE two-bedroom apartments. They were mostly either scary places or places that had two "bedrooms" but no living rooms.

Thus, I finally got the bright idea of looking for more expensive one-bedroom apartments. Maybe, I thought, expensive one-bedroom apartments would be nicer than low-to-mid-priced two-bedrooms.

And somehow the stars aligned and up popped a listing too good to be true. A fresh, modern, cat-friendly LOFT apartment was available in EG's old Hayes Valley 'hood for our price. And we snapped that baby up in two seconds.

Oh, how I loved that apartment.

The house I grew up in had a giant kitchen with a wall of windows and a brick floor and a brick fireplace (Connecticut farmhouse, remember). My family spent 90% of our time in that kitchen, including when guests were over. And while a modern loft in San Francisco is mostly nothing like a Connecticut farmhouse, living in one giant room was familiar.

I remember the smell of fresh paint and warm air. Instead of a decades-old hissing radiator, we had a gas fireplace. The ceilings were maybe 20' high. The far wall was completely windwed. The stairs were completely open, and we had 1.5 baths. The kitchen had dark cherry cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops.

But the best thing about living in a newly constructed place was how everything worked. The farmhouse, my homes in Connecticut, my apartments in San Francisco -- they were all (to one degree or another) "old." I'd never realized you could have more than one outlet in the same wall! I didn't understand the magnificence of having every light switch in the home turn something on! Every time! Not only could you keep a granite countertop clean, you could keep modern wood floors clean, too! OH GLORY DAY.

We had a tiny balcony that overlooked the swankier lofts' backyards, but also Market Street, and even with the double-paned "soundproof" glass, you could hear the F-Market go by. You could sort of see Martuni's from our place.

If the Sutter St. place was the home of bad juju, this loft was the opposite. Something happened there. I guess I finally started to feel my SF groove, maybe. We moved in in October 2003, two years after I'd arrived in the city. I'd heard that it takes about two years of living somewhere new to totally feel settled, and that could not have been truer for me.

I'd finally found a real group of friends, and we had some amazingly fun parties in that place. In fact, I've maybe never had a better time at one of my own shindigs than our November housewarming party. We pulled out all the stops, buying glassware instead of plastic cups, for example, and hand-making fancy hors d'oeuvres like spanikopita (AMAZING considering my culinary background), and it was fabulous. It was my own. It was of my own making, and of my own choosing. The apartment, the people, the music, the food -- all of it was constructed. I'd felt like it was something I built. I'd never felt further from the clutches of a marriage that didn't suit me, or from all the things I'd never liked about where I grew up. It was like I'd taken all the parts about my upbringing that I liked most and expanded them into this crazy new life.

That apartment became party central. We were always ready to entertain -- glassware and booze at the ready, and if not munchies at least a pizza place on speed dial. If our friends were going out for the night, we'd start there for pre-partying (or "pre-drinking" if you want to get technical). The girls would go upstairs to primp and everyone would eat pizza and watch silly television.

While living there, at Haight & Market, I finally got a "normal*" 9-to-5 office job. I started my own, totally independent work life and public-transit commute in a city that was no longer a strange place to me. I can't even begin to express how oddly validating of my new life it was to take a city bus to get to work.

While living there, I started my a cappella group. I'd been looking around for a way to get back into singing, but all my efforts had, until then, been half-assed. Something happened at Haight & Market, though. I felt more in control of my life than ever, and started to really believe that I was the only person standing in the way of living life the way I wanted to. So I put an ad on Craigslist, and The Loose Interpretations were born.

While living there, I finally had the strength and clarity to really examine my relationship with EG. We had been having fun, for sure...but. Of course, he'd been a pillar of strength for me.  He was the only person I knew in San Francisco for a long time. We had almost nothing in common except our values and love for The City, which somehow made us excellent friends. Plus there was the soul-bonding fact that six weeks after my mother passed away of her longtime illness, so did his.

It made sense for us to be together in some ways, for some time. But as I was working hard to define my SF life, EG was a tough one. "Living with a guy" was vague. "Boyfriend" was vague. I'd come to a point where I needed to commit to the direction my life was headed, one way or another. And that's how we came to be engaged.

But that didn't fit. Every personality conflict we'd ever had suddenly went from "I can live with this" to "I HAVE TO LIVE WITH THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?" EG's brooding fits of introversion didn't mesh with my constant need for chatter and company, and we lived in a constant state of compromise. Which was fine. But not okay for forever.

We broke up three months after we got engaged.

Which meant that by the summer of 2004, I was looking for my fourth apartment in three years. 

Photos from Christmas 2003






*This was the one involving miniature donkeys. So "normal" is relative.

6 comments:

  1. I LOVE hearing about your life/adventures from the past in San Fran. I have visited there a couple of times with my husband in the last few years and very much enjoyed the city.

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  2. Oh, just had to comment on this. My house is absolutely adorable, charming, tons of character... and 100 years old. I've been here for 7 years, and THIS is the year that EVERYTHING is breaking and requiring updating. I love my silly old house, but I keep thinking "townhouse in the 'burbs... just sayin'..." So yeah, I have that internal conversation every day about how nice it would be to live somewhere NEW where things were all updated and fantastic and didn't need to be FIXED all the time!

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  3. dear lord, you are funny! i had a comment, but then i read the story of your running into the wall and brilliantly bruising your ass so all the laughter and crying took my memory. now i have no idea what i wanted to say about this post.

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  4. Oh goodness, that space! I swoon. If I ever get up to move to SF I'm going to have to ask you for the address so I can live there for a year or two.

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  5. I can't tell you how many fond memories I have of that place... Love you and miss you!

    -Noelle

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  6. I am loving these posts! You know what else would be awesome? A post on recommendations of your fav places in SF. I think that that would be a marvelous post.

    This has nothing to do with the fact that I'm headed there in September and for once in my life will have multiple days to see the city instead of the usual whirlwind 2 day stint....nope....nothing at all ;)

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