A Tourist in my Old City

A Tourist in my Old City

Polk Street in SF

A few weeks ago, I went back to San Francisco for the first time since leaving last fall. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it but I assumed it would feel like I hadn’t left. Which was kinda true.

I stayed with a friend off Polk St near Russian Hill after arriving via BART from Oakland. While she was at work, I wandered the area - a place once so familiar to me. It felt like nothing had changed, and really, how could it? It’s only been 3.5 months, not like there’s been much time for change.

A corner in San Francsico

Something surprising happened, though. The feelings of sadness and lonliness returned. I was instantly taken back to a time when, not too long ago, I’d wake up and look forward to my next milestone Chicago visit. I didn’t realize until I left but the days in SF passed in a weird, dreamlike way. It never felt real to me. I always felt like I was living in between visits and all other times, on a path of discovery that never felt like ordinary, daily life.

An alley in San FranciscoAn alley in San Francisco

I remember wandering Polk St on the weekend, as I often had two days with nothing to look forward to. Those sad feelings came back pretty hard and it felt like I lived there again, back to a time when I only talked to friends over video or text. A time when I watched a lot of the Kardashians at home by myself. A time when I had to struggle to plan things to do. A time when it was just me, Sweet Pea and Flip. I found myself habitually walking toward Gough St, as if I were returning home after a lonely weekend adventure. I don’t have those feelings in Chicago at all - as a matter of fact, I had forgotten what it was like to feel that way.

Walking on the Golden Gate Bridge on a foggy day

I am lucky because now, I’m a hop / skip / jump away from Seth and Kim. Friends I missed deeply while away can pop over for a drink or impromptu walk in the snow. My days vary in productivity, which is good and bad, but I never feel the loneliness because I know that no matter how I feel that day, at the end of it I can see someone I love in person. No more fucking video calls or text messages. Presence is everything.

Fog over the SF Bay

I did walk by my old place one night. It was bizarre. Normally, when I walk by a place I used to live, I feel pangs of nostalgia, a longing to go inside. I didn’t feel that way as I approached the gate of my old abode. I crossed Gough for a better view of the building and as I looked up, I noticed a dude in my old unit. He walked from living area to the kitchen, right in front of the windows. And I didn’t wonder what it looked like inside or how I’d feel if I had a chance to go upstairs. I didn’t miss it but looking at it, I appreciated it for what it was to me not too long ago - my SF sanctuary and the place that I called home.

Apartment building in San Francisco at night

Do I miss San Francisco? Yes. It’s a magnificent city that I’ll always cherish and adore. Do I regret leaving? Not at all.

And that’s something I didn’t fully know until two weeks ago during my saunter in Russian Hill. I used to worry endlessly about regretting my decision to leave, as previous posts like I love you, California will prove. Visiting showed me that the city of San Francisco will always be there for me to consume if I need to, but the life I used to live there is left behind. And, I’m okay with that.

Selfie of the artist on the GG bridge

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