Dear San Francisco,
I’m celebrating 21 years of living here this year. It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere. Guam was dethroned nine years ago in 2011; I had lived there for ten years. Most people don’t even know where Guam is. But San Francisco is different. Everyone knows where San Francisco is and what the city is famous for: fog, steep streets, the Golden Gate Bridge, and cable cars, to name a few. For me, San Francisco, you have always been home, from my childhood to adulthood. The memories here run deep. Even when I was living in the UK, I couldn’t stay away.
While my family was stationed at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, California in the 80’s, we would drive the two hours to spend the weekend in Vallejo to visit our cousins: Joel, Josh, and Jordan and then we would spend a day with our Tita Remy at her house in Outer Sunset, lovingly known to all as “Hotel Santiago.” Our parents let us run along the water at Ocean Beach. We explored the San Francisco Zoo at dusk…Flashforward to the present, and I am in awe that I am still in the city. That city skyline that comes into view on 101 after passing under the blue pedestrian bridge still captivates me.
San Francisco, while you have become more expensive and the rent that we pay is a mortgage for a house everywhere else, it is hard to imagine living anywhere else. I’ve watched our Japantown/Fillmore neighborhood grow and expand. Now, it’s a destination, like the Mission or the Marina. My husband Daniel and I point out our former apartments to our daughters, so they can see where we’ve lived. Our respective work commutes (pre-COVID) is less than 30 minutes. When we walk into our church, our preschool, our favorite Walgreens, and our neighborhood Mollie Stones, it’s like an episode of Cheers. “Everybody knows our name.”
Whenever I count the reasons why I am still here, they outnumber the reasons why I could’ve left.
Even now, as my beloved travel industry has been decimated by the pandemic, I take comfort in still having a job at a wonderful company and being able to provide for our family. I take comfort in knowing that we were assigned to an elementary school in our neighborhood and that there is a community effort to create a fun learning environment for all of the children. Most of all, I take comfort in the community I have created for myself with my husband, our two girls, and our circle of family and friends.
Thank you, San Francisco, for giving me the opportunity to live my dream the last twenty years. We will learn from this year’s strife, as we have learned from others. One day soon, as Tony Bennett sings, “your golden sun will shine for us.”