Thursday, June 23, 2005

What I'll Miss About San Francisco

So I haven't mentioned in my blog yet that H. and I found a new place--we're heading back to the East Bay, and I have to say I'm really happy. Originally, we were only going to live out in Frisco for a year until his business got up and running, but it's been a year and seven months and I'm ready for some sunshine, warmer temperatures, the laidback Oaktown vibe, and a 20-minute 'commute' to work versus an hour-and-a-half one.

But there are some things I'll truly miss about living in SF. Not that we won't be here all the time--I don't think H. could stay away for even a few days, and I've gotten so used to the conveniences and attractions that set Frisco apart from Oakland and all the other cities in the Bay Area to stay away for long either. So what'll I miss? Let me count the things...

-Serendipitous access to art venues and other creative attractions. For example, last weekend we checked out the free Intersection for the Arts 40th anniversary celebration block party, which took up the long block on Valencia between 16th and 17th. We saw the Marcus Shelby Trio perform, got to peep some YouthSpeaks poets, but didn't get to see Ntozake Shange because she cancelled at the last minute. Bummer. But we did also get to see a fine exhibit of anniversary-related art in the gallery on the top floor of the Intersection building. H. took home a poster from the blood-red punkesque mural that featured the words 'Jello Biafra v. Dianne Feinstein v. Quentin Kopp'. How San Francisco.

-Another time, H. and I stumbled quite on accident (we were on our way to Trader Joe's for mundane grocery shopping) a Dia de los Muertos exhibit at SOMArts, consisting of some amazing altars by local artists, including one memorial to Frisco residents who had been killed by gun violence in the previous year.

-Last artsy example: Tonite I stopped by theVoices/VONA faculty reading (again, free!) at USF to hear Junot Diaz, Elmaz Abinader, David Mura and Jimmy Santiago-Baca read. Just five minutes away from my house. I'll be in my Novel workshop with VONA next week, and glad that I'll have to take the 38L to Arguello instead of all the way downtown (oops, I'm supposed to talk about what I like about San Francisco).

-The food. Did you know that San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than Paris? Or something like that. The grub in this town is really off the chain. Whether you're jonesing for cheap Thai take-out (King of Thai) or chi-chi gourmet raw vegan food (Millenium), late-night Chinese food (China First on Clement is our current favorite) or slammin' Italian food (North Beach or Richmond district, for starters), Frisco's really got it all. There's also this spot for hardcore carnivores called Espetus Churrascaria, a Brazilian-style barbecue place, that I've been wanting to try. Well, okay, Oakland does have an edge on SF when it comes to barbeque overall, but we won't get into that now.

-The beaches. From China Beach to Baker Beach to Ocean Beach to North or South Beach (okay, those last two aren't really beaches but they are close to the water and have great views), SF's got the best access to beautiful ocean views of any urban area I've been to. Even when the ocean is covered or obscured by fog, you can't beat a drive down the Great Highway.

-The cafes. There must be at least five times as many cafes in San Francisco than in Oakland and Berkeley combined. Which means you can always find a spot to park your booty and grab a cup o' joe (or tea or chai or whatever you're into) and write or chill or people watch or whatever. My favorite cafe spots in Frisco? La Boheme on 24th and Mission for the eclectic and gritty experience; Crossrooads Cafe in Southbeach for a chill vibe and quick access to waterfront walkways; Mario's Bohemian in North Beach to write in and get a nice view of Washington Square park; and Bazaar Cafe's backyard patio and free wi-fi is my pick for the rare sunny, warm day in the Richmond district.

But even with all that said, I can't wait to move back to Oakland. I'm an East Bay girl at heart. But I think at least a small part of my heart will be left behind in San Francisco when I migrate back across the Bay Bridge.


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