Lately, I’ve been practicing a lightness of being. I’ve been making playlists, listening to songs on repeat that make me feel good, sometimes even listening to songs that remind me of people. I’ve flipped through pages of poetry, reread Bukowski on my yellow chair with the windows closed, the evenings cold and the ocean dark and roaring in the distance. I buy flowers every week now, bright and colorful against my grey wall, and when I wake the first thing I do is pull back the curtain, the light and the smell of blooming flowers illuminating my morning.
I know that I am lucky to live here. I work hard to keep living in my dream city as much as I let myself enjoy it. The other day after a particularly intense yoga class, I bought myself an ice cream cone and finished the last few bites as I waited at a bus stop in Lower Haight to head home. Recently I attended a reading at City Lights to hear a man read from his memoir about living in Paris, and afterwards met a friend for a drink next door at Vesuvio, listened to old Johnny Cash and Pink Floyd songs as we talked about all the places we have traveled and want to travel and how much, like living and loving it here, we need it too.
Some days when it’s sunny outside, I sneak away from working and take a few hours for myself to be in a park, sit barefoot on a hill and people watch at Duboce or Alamo Square. And living here is normal now. I have found my routines, my coffee shops, my yoga studio, the quickest route to take home and have rooted myself down into the land of familiarity; that I Live Here, and it feels Glorious. Even the uncomfortable parts, like when the Texan in me shows, or every now and again when the culture of San Francisco is a shock to my senses. I have been challenged too, my patience, my sense of kindness, my ideas about how people, including myself, treat each other. Without the safety net of close friends and family, distance is teaching me to dismantle the walls of my comfort zone and embrace everything with a kind of openness I didn’t know I was capable of until I really needed to be. And I have learned to be capable, alone. Time has become my best solution for many things, like losing and gaining and giving back. San Francisco has made me softer. I have learned how to be kinder to myself.
I’ve finally grown used to the cold, learned to prepare for chilly evenings and not be tricked by warm afternoons, always careful to bring a cotton scarf, forever wrapped around me to keep me comfortable. The fog that comes in the late afternoon no longer surprises me, but rather is something like a habit of the city, part of the landscape and the way people here live and dress and talk to each other.
This city has become my home, the place I want to stay for as long as I can. It feels like it took forever to get here, for so long I dreamed of it, wished for it, planned for it. Every day I am offering gratitude that I live here, in this loud city with crowded streets and the kindest people I’ve ever met in one place. I have grown used to the small space of where I live, no longer lamenting about the lack of shelf space for my books or shoes. This city is my living room, my kitchen, a safe place made of bookstores and tea shops and flower shops and dark bars filled with juke boxes and photo booths and laughter with friends, a warm spot to have a good drink and celebrate our youth, however finite. Beautiful and good things are happening to me and have illustrated the portrait of my life. A part of me never would have imagined my life would be like this. A part of me always imagined it was supposed to be like this.