I was sixteen when I first laid eyes on The City, and I have loved it everyday since. The thrill, the freedom, the excitement of a big city, and the appeal of a foreign city. It was my first taste of independence, even though I was on a school trip with 29 other students, and chaperoned by my maths teacher.
San Francisco was the first port of call, and it’s where I left my heart. I told my parents of my plan to live there. And a little over a decade later, I returned to San Francisco to make it my home. It’s something I am really happy to have achieved.
The city is physically beautiful, but if you’ve been reading this blog, I’m sure you’re already aware of this (like here, here and here). Some of my favourite parts of the city are the pristine hills of Marin provide the perfect background to a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day, and the silence of the office buildings downtown on a Sunday afternoon. You’re never short of a crackpot (or four) in the city, and there is always parades, protests, or police activity. You can tell which nation’s diplomats are in town by the flags waving in the omnipresent wind outside the St Francis Hotel.
But I left San Francisco. I left because I needed a change – a change of scenery from the frantic pace of living right downtown, and the space in my timetable to work on other projects. I had enough of the sirens at all hours of the night, of not having a convenient place to buy groceries, of lacking that real ‘neighbourhood’ feel that makes the rest of San Francisco fascinating. It had become old, tired, claustrophobic. But in retrospect, that may have just been me.
Everyday, I think about returning to the city I love. Spending evening eating sushi with friends, weaving myself into the story of their lives, and having them in mine. Of spending time with family — football games, baseball games, graduations. Dreams of eating cheese on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Cole Valley, people watching on the Marina Green, or enjoying a fruity ale and fancy pizza in the Inner Richmond. I imagine the opportunities that await me in a city bursting with energy and creativity.
I don’t know if the next step will be returning to San Francisco for good. But I do find that it’s the one place my heart yearns for, particularly when I see these photos from Phototropic, a Frenchman who has made his home in the Bay Area.
*All photos by Phototropic. I highly recommend you pay his site a visit.