Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Leaving My ♥ In SF #1: Independent Coffee Shops and Street Art

When I first moved to San Francisco, I was completely, utterly, and stupendously miserable. I had relocated from a secure, comfortable, and sheltered neighborhood in West Los Angeles to the Civic Center region in San Francisco, and had inadvertently signed a year-long lease that placed me right in the middle of one of the filthiest, most crime-ridden, and most drug-infested parts of the city.

Everyday I tearfully longed for Southern California as I laid alone on the carpeted floor of my studio and listened to the clamoring rattle of street cars passing on Market Street.

I remember the day the U.S. declared war on Iraq and protesters swarmed the steps of City Hall and Federal Building. I watched from my balcony as I saw the National Guard congregate and close off the main thoroughfare in San Francisco. The National Guard formed a taut human barrier across all lanes of traffic, and were dressed full-on riot gear and armed with bulletproof armor, ballistic shields, and batons.

I remember fearfully thinking to myself, "This would never happen where I come from."

I also remember visiting the independently-owned coffeeshop a block away from my apartment, and encountering two types of people: 1) bohemians / hippies reeking of incense, with tangled dreadlocks and tattered tie-dyed clothing or 2) studious beatniks sporting rimmed glasses and turtlenecks and sipping on free trade coffee as they flipped through dog-earred pages of Foucault.

With my
US Weekly Magazine in hand and neon pink flip-flop sandals on my shivering feet, I felt like a fish out of water.

But the more I lived in San Francisco, the more I began to understand and appreciate it. It wasn't until several months after my move that I realized I had fallen in love with the City because I began to recognize it for the highly cultured and educated city it is--a city brimming with intelligence and flamboyance and ripe with character.

This past week, I strolled through my old neighborhood in San Francisco, and appreciatively reflected on how aesthetically pleasing and picturesque every building, street corner, and tuft of grass truly was. Only in San Francisco. I saw artistic beauty in everything I observed, from colored chalk drawings on the coffeeshop blackboard to the shadows projected by the palm trees at sunset.

Here are some pictures I took that day, images that I felt were particularly compelling, because they illustrate the subtle, yet remarkable beauty of San Francisco that I have come to know and love.


  1. that's very true: when I visited SF I found it a culturally rich, friendly, and aesthetically pleasing city. i loved it.

    and that last picture, with the furniture? yeah, i've been there. :)


  2. For more San Fran photo goodness, I leave you this bunch of photos I found http://flickr.com/photos/justinsaiki/

    Excellent and artsy, I'm loving it.

  3. i feel like we all have this same sort of apprehension no matter where we move. but your memories and photos are all so lovely! i wish i saw a pic of those pink, out of place flip flops. lol!

  4. Yay, the furniture building on Sixth Street!

    I come from the opposite point of view as a native of the bay, so I've always been sort of confused by southern CA lifestyle. Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you're now enjoying SF, and that you've come around from the "dark side." Hehe may the force be with you :)

  5. Hi PE - Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos, and al ittle bit of youself! I can understand the fish out of water feeling...I felt oddly out of place, and yet fascinated when I first moved to LA from Honolulu.....

  6. You have a more discerning and artistic eye than I do Xessere, it took me a while before I fully appreciated San Francisco's beauty. Thanks for visiting!

    I just spent a good hour looking at those gorgeous pictures Anonymous! Thank you so much for the link!

    Yes, I agree Pink Nest, when I first moved to Los Angeles from Arizona, I was devastated. Then, four years later, I couldn't bear to part with Los Angeles when I eventually moved to San Francisco.

    Haha, Eric! Unfortunately, if living in Los Angeles means that I am the spawn of the Dark Sith Lord, then I have to plead guilty of that offense!

    Yes, that saying was "literal" for you Kirk K, because you really did leave the pristine waters of Hawaii to move to Los Angeles!

  7. wow, i love how you perfectly capture the exact feelings i have for SF through telling your own story! in fact, i can identify the exact day, place, and moment that i found myself starting to like this city by the bay. it was probably memorable because i've never been more miserable before that moment.

    it makes me sad to think about you leaving this city, our office building, our usual lunch spot, etc...

  8. Hey PE, I remember the last two pictures the crazy building is in SOMA. LOL. I used to work in SOMA at SEGA...lived there in the bay area for 4 years. There is this little Chinese restaurant on Bryant near the SEGA office, my frequent joint for lunch. Their daily complementary soup is soooo homey...especially the one with dried tofu stick and mushroom...mmm mmm I miss it.

  9. Lol. I recognized some of those streets. SF can be a great city if you're careful. It's still just as dangerous as any other metropolitan area.

    I'm with Eric on the WTF culture shock of moving to SoCal from the SF Bay Area.

  10. I am so glad that you three Bay Area natives (or "once" Bay Area natives) understand my feelings of appreciation for San Francisco and its beauty. It is a stunning place, and even better because it once was home (or currently is home) to you Jinerous, Rasa Malaysia, and Chubby Panda!


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