For me, some of my super-loving very well meaning friends that really want to see me living in San Francisco (some from a lack of being informed/absence of curiosity about how much Minneapolis/Saint Paul really has.) Other equally well-meaning loving friends want me to stay. We’ve made the decision – Mike and I both go. He functions better when I’m around to kick his ass and get him off multi-player games.
So now I’m sitting back and looking at how this could be good for me. But this means I first have to acknowledge the real problems: San Francisco is Silicon Valley now – it doesn’t cater to me. In fact, I’m exactly who it’s tried to get rid of. I just happen to be married to exactly the kind of person the area is now trying to attract. I’m extremely put off by how young the area is collectively – when a place that expensive has that many twenty-somethings roaming around, something is wrong. There’s overprivilege stinking to the high heavens. I saw a five year old wearing Google Glasses and that’s just one example of how the place is proportionately out of whack. Stuff like that kills kids’ capacity for empathy. Just look at what it’s done to adults. When was the last time you actually looked another adult in the eyes? Probably before you bought that SmartPhone.
So here is what I know is good:
- the historical society. Any group that does suffragist speech re-enactments is inherently awesome. Mike trundled me off for fear they’d recruit me on the spot.
- the YMCA Bay area membership means I can get in pretty much all the types of physical activities I want in a sort-of no-pressure environment. There’s even a bellydance class But there’s the negative weighing on me: larger women aren’t common in San Francisco at all. Exactly how much time am I going to spend batting off people making idiotic, entitled comments about my body and by inference, the rest of me?
- Berkeley and Stanford both have really appealing continuing education programs for writers. Berkeley’s is online – meaning no one will be reminding me every ten seconds they went to Berkeley. Stanford’s is tempting, but it requires that I go to Palo Alto. Palo Alto is not a place for decent, humane people – or for me. On the other hand, most universities are a separate universe from the towns that have them. So that could be an unknown, even if I would dearly love to repeatedly slap the one current Stanford student I do know.
- There are multiple writers’ collectives and programs out there. None are quite as solid as the Loft but most are much more affordable.
- I have heard that the Pagans of the Bay Area are awesome. I have liked the one person I met from there. I will see. There are plenty of metaphysical shops. I already spotted the hole in their organizing techniques and it comes from old school thinking that was new school three years ago. (So it’s not a terrible thing, but it’s a thing.) What is that thing? At least one major “meet the Pagans” site neglects to mention any specific locales. Bay Area is a colloquial expression – people moving to the area or visiting it aren’t going to know to call it that. It will help, given how transient the area is, to actually list the areas “Bay Area” refers to on the site.
- I did email and mention this would help searchers like me. We’ll see if that helps.
- I am, in fact, less fearful walking around San Francisco than I am Minneapolis. It’s extremely difficult to express why without sounding like I’m blaming a person for a situation – or excusing a person when there’s no excuse. Misogyny is far more rife in Minnesota than in California. Of course, body judgment is pretty much there so that’s a whole other problem I’ll have to develop yet more tools to handle.
- Panhandlers. I hate them everywhere, so that’s equal.
- California is really pushing the electric cars. San Francisco does not have an electric vehicle organization the size and strength of Minnesota’s. Transience? Passivity?
I am told everyone kind of sticks to their city out there. It is kind of true here but not really, not exactly. I wander to both sides of the river pretty easily and regularly – of course, the population and land mass is significantly smaller so that’s easier to do.
I think this has been what’s bothering me about all this Bay Area stuff – the community feels kind of weakened. I should love it. I should. I love Portland, I love Minneapolis. What is my problem with San Francisco aside from my perpetual fear that my body will divide me from human decency again? I know why on the surface – but does that mean that there are people with strength and interest hiding in the more affordable suburbs?