So tomorrow I leave the City, and it feels like it will be for good.
I’m just moving across the Bay, where the grass is a little greener, and the trees breathe real air, but I know I won’t be back.
I’m moving away from the big buildings with minute, claustrophobic apartments, away from the endless fog and the monotonous anonymous commuters with their shiny briefcases and oversized iPhones. I used to glide around on a bright red bike; my tires got torn by the needles and glass scattered across the streets. Now, I’ll sail past gardens, real gardens, in front of homes, real homes. I’ll bike to class, and pick up produce on the way home.
I won’t miss the constant stench of urine, vomit and feces that pervade downtown San Francisco streets. I won’t miss wondering if that pile of cardboard contains a human or not. I won’t miss the claustrophobia, or the fucking self entitled white techy brats, or the constant roadworks or the stupid hills or the assholes who barge into you in the street without apologizing, with their loud voices and large coffees.
I won’t miss people not holding the door open.
I won’t miss the ten hours a week I spent stuck inside a cramped BART carriage, praying I was on the right train. I won’t miss waking up for class two hours before I needed to be there. I won’t miss desperately trying to finish assignments with my laptop balanced on my knees, nor will I miss the stench from the local tramps who sleep on the trains. I won’t miss wondering if someone slept in the seat I was sitting in. I won’t miss lugging my bike over the barriers every damned day, nor will I miss having to leave every study session early to catch the last train home. I won’t miss carrying a backpack loaded with three meals and every textbook and notebook and stationary item I thought I maybe perhaps would need that day, just in case I had the urge to hit the library after class.
I won’t miss my flatmate, but I will miss my flat. I won’t miss the stupid excessive swimming pool they provide for us, nor will I miss the stupid excessive hot-tub they provide for us, but I will miss the roof; a quiet place of solace where I loved to hide with a flask of tea and a textbook, my study playlist being the sound of cars whooshing across the Bay Bridge to my left, the sunset colours over Oakland to my right. Eventually, I’ll become wistful for watching dawn break over the Bay from early morning tram rides on the way to work at that coffee shop last year, although I know I’ll never eat overnight oats again. I’ll mourn for the friends I made behind the counter of my local cafe, and I’m aware I won’t find anyone across the Bay willing to replace my flat tires for free if I just sit around and chat for a couple of hours.
I’ll miss the power of Uber, the self entitlement of knowing there’s money on my card. I’ll miss eating out with my friends, and easy access to dancing. I know this is the next step on my journey, and I know God is watching over me, has a plan for me, and will somehow make the future shine bright and beautiful. I know I am blessed to be surrounded by love and light, good friends and loud laughter. Yet my days are sprinkled with mild trepidation for what lies for me over there. No one said change was easy.
I’m excited, too. For wood, for a clean but lived in kitchen, for an old stove, for a garden, for having friends over for dinner, for good parties, for alcohol and illicit jam sessions, for studying late into the night, for having too many lamps. I’m excited for tea, and for easy sex, and for a large window overlooking bright palm trees. I’m excited to be a regular at a new cafe, to work at a new cafe, to wake up and drink coffee made from a drip machine in my new old kitchen, to have tip money again. I’m excited to take up an internship. To sublease my new home when I move to China. Will I move to China? Oh my god.
I’m ready to commit to my studies. I will be the best student I can be. And I will dance with new vigour, and I’ll catch a ride when I want to party in the city (though I’m aware I’ll have less time to get ready…). And I’ll open my window, and smell flowers and clear ivy, instead of stale piss.
And I know I’m not coming back. Leaving the City is a one way road.
Thanks for forming me, San Francisco. It’s over.