Wicked thoughts from a San Francisco day
I am in my yoga class. The instructor introduces himself as a cis male. “Please correct me if I refer to you with the wrong gender…
I am in my yoga class. The instructor introduces himself as a cis male. “Please correct me if I refer to you with the wrong gender pronoun,” he says. There’s a hint of apology in his voice — as if being a straight born male is an inferior form of being. I wonder if he actually cares about offending our pronoun- sensibilities. I lose my train of thought as I struggle with a variation of downward dog.
I step outside the yoga classroom. It’s a foggy morning in San Francisco. The ocean mist fills my lung — a welcome change from the stuffy smell of yoga mats. I walk half a block. I am overrun by a strong stench. On the sidewalk are three tents filled with homeless. I wonder why our city has more homeless than any other.
My Uber driver is from Afghanistan. He’s chit chatting about his live-in girlfriend and his wife back home. Life has gotten so expensive, he says, he now pays $2k for a two bedroom in Sacramento. He comes every Thursday and stays the weekend with his cousin. There’s more work in San Francisco. He is hoping he can get a girlfriend in San Francisco so he doesn’t have to stay with his cousin. But it’s too expensive.
The city might pass new rules about Uber, he frets, that will make it harder for new drivers to register. I read in the paper that the city “needs to balance the needs of all citizens, not just those who use ride hailing.” I wonder what PR firm the cab-medallion lobby hired this time around.
I am taking the BART from the mission to downtown. There’s a man sleeping in the back row. I read that BART officials voted against new security measures, following two homicides, because cameras are a threat to privacy. I wonder how many BART officials own a cell phone and if they know that, at any point in time, Facebook, Google, every telecom carrier, device manufacturer, a few dozen apps and a half dozen governments know their exact whereabouts.
Today is the opening of the Transbay terminal, a $2b public transportation hub. The building is stunning. And the park on top is a welcome reprieve from the streets below. It’s almost perfect. There’s a sign that Caltrain might stop there in 2028. I wonder if it’s a typo or a joke.
I arrive home. There’s a broken window in the car in front of our apartment building. I am desensitized to car break-ins by now. I head upstairs. There’s a post on Medium about leaving San Francisco. I understand why people would choose to leave. But of the millions of Americans who move every year, only ones leaving San Francisco write a treatise about their move — as if a social media post can conceal the inconsequentiality of our choices.
The sun is setting outside as the fog rolls in. This city I have called home for two decades has gotten as expensive as Tokyo and as seedy as the Bronx. Its summers are cold, its politicians inept. And its left-leaning inhabitants possess a punitive orthodoxy that is more reminiscent of Mullahs than liberals. But I chose to stay.
I chose to stay because the entrepreneurial spirit in this city is unlike any other. Because the optimism of Haight Ashbury and the fight for human rights this city pioneered before the rest of the world is still here. Because real tech is born within thirty miles from here. Because I prefer a city obsessed with Medium over one obsessed with Instagram. For that, and more, I choose to stay — and to write about it.