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.