Rachael and Lili Bean

Noe Valley

Wednesday afternoon


Growing up in Tennessee in the 70s with a single mom, we had an “npr/food co-op/flea market life”. I used to go up and visit Frieda our attic neighbor. All sorts of Technicolor groovy posters hung in her tiny wood paneled apartment. She wore cool bellbottoms and fed me peanut butter sandwiches on homemade whole wheat bread. We had a lot of neighbors like Frieda back in those days. When the 80s happened, big hair and bad fashions grabbed me by the bolo tie and didn’t let go until about 1987. My young heart pined for the typical suburban life like that of most people I knew in the catholic school I was sent to due to my ‘assimilation troubles’. Somewhere along the way something snapped in me. I began to see my childhood days of warm wood paneling, friends living in communal houses, flea markets and swimming in creeks as the best times of my life. I vowed to never, ever live in a suburb after all.

After putting myself through college working a series of lowly positions in sometimes humiliating menial jobs, in 1997 I was invited in the form of an employment offer to be part of the dotcom boom in San Francisco. I decided pretty quickly to do it, and said goodbye to my family and the fireflies of Tennessee. I became part of the reviled wave of newcomers to the bay area known as ‘dotcommers’. Sadly, I was never one of the overpaid ones that typified the cliché. Those dotcom days were grand, filled with lavish parties and a general running wild about my new city. Even the dotcom bust of 2000, while stressful, was mostly a barrel of fun. Everyone was laid off and we all suffered through it together. I was quite happy with my creative projects, stock options and severance packages. I mostly thought about design and art and what I might be doing after work. Sometime around my 35th birthday I started to sing ‘is that all there is’ irony free and most likely out of key. One day, I was in my doorway on Bush street just about to go out for a wander. “Since my friend the internet had given me so much already in life, why not see if it can find a special someone for me?”, I questioned myself. In those days there was still a stigma attached [there might be still, I don’t know] to using ‘dating sites’ so I had no interest in doing that. What I did was pull up a profile on Friendster. I kept it open and told myself that if, post-exercise session, I still felt like it, I would send a message.

I came back and wrote a witty [I thought] little intro to the guy who was smiling up at the coffeemaker as if it was a Buddha on a mountain. A day or so later, I got a reply. We traded banter back and forth for a couple of months. I went to a party at his office/warehouse and later he invited me to his birthday party at Zeitgeist, and this is when we hit it off. He proposed to me on my birthday in May of 2005 on Telegraph Hill with parrots swooping and squawking all around us. We got married at the Log Cabin in the Presidio in December.

On my birthday in 2008, Lili Bean was born. This seemingly conventional life that I’ve found in San Francisco is one that I never expected after a lifetime pretty close to unconventionality. I never pictured myself settling down like this and being happy with it. But I did and I am. We hope to raise our little native San Franciscan in the city of her birth, with generous visits to Tennessee thrown in. She must see fireflies and swim in a few creeks. She’ll definitely be going to flea markets and having pbj’s on homemade bread, too.


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