A friend recently noted that stories seem to fall into my lap. I walk outside and attract the completely bizarre: flying pigeons, towed cars, missed connections, and Verizon staff who think it’s appropriate to casually text after they’ve sold me a new phone. To be my friend is to have lived through these stories, wondering if I might be the secret love child of both comedy and tragedy. Either way, weird shit happens and I’m usually along for the ride.
There was the time my not-so-nice neighbor came out yelling, asking me to move my car from my driveway because it was in her way. Sometimes people are not their best selves in the morning. I understand. (A friend once told me “Good morning!” at 5am and I told him to f*** off.) Anyway, in the furry of this neighborly interaction, I ran to my car and drove it to re-park. A few blocks from my apartment I successfully found a spot, only to realize I had forgotten my shoes at home. So, I proceeded to walk barefoot back to my apartment in broad daylight, while trying to avoid eye contact with young professionals who happened to have their shit together—and their shoes. Only I could inadvertently stage my own walk of shame on a city street in San Francisco without any sex. Needless to say, that takes some talent.
Another evening I was on my third attempt at parallel parking when a guy walked up and asked me if I wanted help. “Sure,” I said, exasperated and tired from my soul-sucking commute. I then let a complete stranger take my car keys and park my car for me while I stood on the sidewalk watching, slowly realizing that might have been a bad idea. But less than a minute later, my car was safely parked and I now had a friend on Polk Street who could park me in a pinch. I mean, not that I’d need it. I am quite adept at parallel parking. It’s just that sometimes the parking gods are against me (more often than not) so I take help where I can.
Then there was the moment when I lost my wallet. Like, really lost it. (I sort of lose it once a week, but I try not to panic. Panicking is exhausting and no one feels sorry for you when wallet losing is a regular habit). I usually find my wallet within 24 hours after I realize I’ve misplaced it in my backpack, or coat pocket, or in a pair of jeans. You know, all the places one would imagine I had already looked but didn’t (because I like surprises).
Then one day I legitimately lost my wallet. I was sure I had lost it on a street somewhere; I had dropped it when I was carrying my phone, and a book, and things that should go in that one black purse I never really carry. 24 hours later, a normal human being messaged me on Facebook saying he had found my wallet and would like to return it. Also, if it wasn’t too much trouble, could I call him to coordinate? So I called the normal human back on his cell phone, which is when I found out he was a schoolteacher and, thus, a real live saint. He answered his phone during class because he assumed it was me and he knows wallets are important to their owners. We quickly arranged to meet at a nearby park after he was done making the world a better place, and he said he would meet me there with his yellow lab. (Did you know labs are attracted to saintly people because they are saints themselves? I just wish they didn’t shed so much.) So, at 4:15pm this kind stranger gave me back my wallet and I thanked him for being a decent person. And I was reminded again that good people exist, especially when we’re paying attention, and especially when we need it. Like when we’re trying to parallel park in the rain, on a busy street, after a stupid-long commute.
And it’s those good people, the weird ones, the kind ones, the ones who are slightly off kilter that I will miss when I move away from San Francisco next month. I will miss going to a dive bar and discussing homophones, and being interrupted by a loud brunette who hates converse, and stupid people, and LA (where she is from). I will miss the guys at the corner deli who quit asking me what cheese I like because I told them I trust them, and they’d never ruin a Turkey sandwich.
I’ll miss the people who have lived these stories with me, who have yelled at me to write them down, who have invited me for Thanksgivings, and dinners, pub-crawls, and pop-up shows. These people are the ones who have made all the difference. They are part of the net that catches me when I am lonely or moody or randomly throwing a housewarming party six months after I’ve moved and have convinced myself no one will want to come.
A friend texted me yesterday: “Hey, remember that time you packed all of your shit up into a car and drove to California to start a new life? So that seems to have worked out.”
And he’s right. It totally did.
Which is why I know it’ll work out some place new. I am no longer starting over with a new name, new friends, and a different job. I’m taking all those things with me because I have worked so hard to make them, keep them, cherish them, and trust them.
I trust the people who have made San Francisco home. They have said yes to backpacking, and dodgeball, Oktoberfest and Napa, Taylor Swift and slip-n-slides, brunch and gelato. They are an eclectic group of humans I’ve had the privilege of knowing, loving, annoying, and high-fiving. They have shown me that vulnerability—with the right people—is life changing. So when I move a little more east and then a little down south, I will finally know what it means to leave a piece of one’s heart in San Francisco.
It is the greatest thing in the world.