Kate

Outside the Macedonia Baptist Church on Sutter
NOPA
Saturday afternoon
***

i grew up in this city, skinning my knees on geary, pecking with trepidation at dim sum, skipping around the richmond district to fetch after-school candy, swaddled in fleece at nightgames at candlestick, sleeping on my floor of my parents’ bedroom for weeks after the ’89 earthquake, visiting my mom’s office in the haight, and my dad after work in the embarcadero, sneaking into filthy bars in north beach without even the pretense of an ID. the spread of the city, all right there. an embarrassment of riches.

my parents still live in the house my sister and i grew up in, a statuesque shingled masterpiece near the presidio–near enough that you can smell the eucalyptus. after high school i left, because one must to truly appreciate, for seven years. i went to college in connecticut, where i embraced the snow, slipped on the ice, cursed the distance, and pined for my city. i went to law school in north carolina, where i was intoxicated by the spring blooms, the uneven sidewalks, the drawl, the sweet tea. it was a social experiment and i loved it. but still home is home is home, and after graduating i did the most natural thing in the world and drove my life straight across the country back to where i belong. i ended my torrid affair with the south. i believe it is hard to grow up in san francisco and end up anywhere else.

i practice a very san francisco kind of law, at a very san francisco law firm. i am one of what i can only imagine is a very select group of litigators who occasionally wears a crinoline under a full skirt to work, with my red and occasionally black nails and sky high heels. then i come home, take it all off, put on ratty shorts and a giants hat, and take roo on a long walk. i prefer to do so in the fog. i love it when this city is brigadoon. it is all very, very san francisco. this is who i am as an adult here.

i was born in 1980 at the alternative birth center at mount zion hospital in lower pacific heights. and that’s all very san francisco and appropriate. i now live in that neighborhood, where each block is an adventure. i explore my city, camera in hand, and i rediscover it. there are few things more gratifying than showing this city off to visitors, walking from neighborhood to neighborhood, noting how they segue into each other, and how their smells and sidewalk art and denizens match and clash.

i ride the bus in this city, and it informs and pushes me. to ride the 22, and sometimes the 1, is to have my romance with this city challenged from every angle, but isn’t it a real relationship, to ride the 22 at 11pm, and still consider san francisco one of my truest loves?

the summer after my sophmore year in college i was supposed to live in los angeles ((insert hissing noise here)) and i had a plum job in the entertainment world. my mom had recently recovered from an illness, and the minute i got to LA i knew it was wrong. i returned to san francisco days later, despite the fact that i was, in essence, alone in the city with my parents and our cat. none of my friends, the faces that defined the place for me until that summer, were there. and that summer i nested in the city alone. i worked at a book store and i ran the steepest inclines and i redefined what this city is to me. i would drive home, late at night, when the traffic lights on pine are flashing and there is no stopping, and i could feel the city living in me. it was then that i became an adult in san francisco, in a mature relationship with this remarkable place.

i grew up here, yes. i had a childhood that is filled with drives to berkeley, landings in sfo (where you think, you truly think, the plane is going to land on water), japanese food downtown, the roses in golden gate park, the windows of mom’s office looking out onto the haight. but i did not know, then, how lucky a duck i was. it is a proud thing to be a san franciscan, and a native at that. but i don’t think i had context for just how remarkable this place is when i was young. it was simply home.

it took leaving. it took, even, loving another place, to realize that san francisco is where i come from but it is also where i belong. it took reacquainting myself with the city on my own, away from the trappings of my childhood spent here, to realize it is my city through and through. and to belong here is an honor, bestowed on the many, because that is how san francisco rolls.

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