We were in SF for a grand total of 9 days. In some ways, it felt like I never left, but there were also some very noticeable differences.
Let me get this one out of the way first: There are more people living on the streets in the Castro than we saw on the streets in all other countries combined. I know this isn’t an easy problem to solve, but I don’t understand how this isn’t a major priority for the city. There are so many mentally ill people wandering around, plus a large number of what I’m guessing are drug addicts camped out in various spots. And based on the amount of shattered glass we saw, it looks like the car robberies keep increasing. Its sad to see The Castro like this – it was always a bright and thriving neighbourhood, and now there are so many empty storefronts (no doubt due to exorbitant rents) and derelicts. I really hope city goverment is working aggressively on some programs to help. (And I don’t mean just pushing people to different areas like they did for the Superbowl – it needs to be a mix of education, healthcare, job coaching, and housing.) Though it always bothered me when I lived there, I think I became a bit desensitized to it since I saw it every day. Now that I’ve been gone for a bit, the contrast to other cities is shocking. It’s sad that there’s no help for these folks.
On a more personal note, I feel like we really maximized our time while we were here – every night was spent with friends (and also any days we could find folks who weren’t working). Whereas before I was too tired to go out very much, this time socializing was the priority, and we fit in mundane stuff like banking and trips to REI (for safari stuff) around everything else.
It felt fantastic to be in a familiar place and eat all my favourite things and generally get stuff accomplished without having to exert any mental effort whatsoever. I knew exactly where to go when I needed specialty safari gear, or beaty supplies, or a haircut. I ate at Tacolicious 4 times in 9 days, went to 3 Zumba classes (one of which I taught), got a manicure and even went to the movies! Exciting!
The week culminated with the incredible wedding of Nick & Taylor. Their vows left everyone in the room weepy, and it was amazing to see so much love for them in one place. It was a great night full of fun, creative people, delicious food, exceptional wine, and so much joy.
Leaving this time felt really different. In May it felt more like going on vacation, as I had the security blanket of this visit on the calendar. This time its a one-way ticket and I don’t know when we’ll be back. I spent our SF time laughing and talking and having fun with so many folks that I love – I know I’m going to be missing you all terribly! Thanks to everyone who made by SF visit so fantastic.
Now its time for the next chapter – adventure, discomfort, uncertainty, majestic beauty, and wildlife (not necessarily in that order) . Africa, here we come!
Photos of many awesome people below: