Leaving San Francisco

I have just under six months left on my subsidy, for which I am immensely grateful. It buys me time with the only family I have. I love San Francisco. This City is precious to me, I care deeply about the people here, and I have come to love every hill, every streetcar, every North Beach stroll and Bayside water view. I love its bookshops and Japan Town where we have spent many a wonderful day together. San Francisco was a refuge and a sanctuary to me. However, it is getting increasingly violent here, my little apartment in a bad part out town is now surrounded by constant noise, fights, suffering and crime. I have been attacked many times, and to be frank, I came here to escape violence, not live in a community of violence where I rightly have to be scared, and now think twice before going out for a walk. The streets are filthy with human excrement, and no one cares when residents in my part of town are kept up all night be disturbances and fights. When I add to that the fact my rent is over $2000 a month and rising, I simply cannot justify staying after my subsidy is up. I will be leaving in August.

For now I am not going to say where I am considering going to. Suffice to say I am not staying in the Bay Area, but will be staying in California. California is home and sanctuary. I spent last night looking at apartments, wondering if anyone would drive a U-Haul for me and the Boy, and wondering if we could possibly have a dog once we move. I barely slept last night. Me and the Boy looked at apartments, wrote lists of possible destinations and wondered if we could go visit some of them by train. In 2022, under a Democrat President and in a Democrat state we still have to worry about being stopped by ICE on trains. One day, I truly believe that America will look back on these policies in shame. Meanwhile I have a move to plan for.

We have a few things we want to do before we leave San Francisco. I would like to visit the Castro area. I want to go one more time and sit in Cafe Vesuvio and stare out into Jack Kerouac Alley. We might go watch a baseball game at the stadium if we can find tickets which are even vaguely sensibly priced. The Boy wants to go to the Embarcadero and play the machines in the The Musée Mécanique again. We won’t be going to Union Square as it is too dangerous nowadays. We will possibly go to the Presidio and walk around the park for one last time. My heart is breaking thinking about leaving, though I know it has to be done and it is no longer viable to live in the City I love. San Francisco takes a little bit of your heart and keeps it. I love the horizon in this City, with its jumble of old and new buildings. I love my walk to China Town, and feeling as if I fell into a movie. I will say I do not feel embraced by the City, I have very few friends, and the people I have met who I consider more than acquaintances, most of them have not reached out to include me in any way. It is not a warm and friendly place. San Francisco is a cold beauty who shuts the door unless you have money, power or influence. I fear for the City. It is on a downward spiral and if even I don’t feel that staying is sensible or possible or safe, then I can guarantee many others don’t either.

Still…new beginnings will make new things happen. We can possibly have more time together if we reduce expenses and time is the most important thing of all. I almost wish I could leave right now, and pull off the band-aid, get it all over and done with and try and get used to a new way of things happening. San Francisco did not help my son get in school, nor did it provide him with ID, instead barriers were put in the way of this happening. The City did not allow him to play in a baseball game, nor include him in social activities – his lack of ID and undocumented status shut him out from joining in with others, not because he didn’t want to be included, but because he was actively excluded. On the plus side, I have an ID which is unlikely to be renewed anyway, and we got the subsidy, which I had to fight for every step of the way.

I bet we could be packed and everything loaded into a U Haul in a matter of hours with enough boxes and some hard work. The City wouldn’t even miss me. I have known this City for years. I came here as a family of three years ago – just me and both the children. We loved it then. Me and the Boy love it still, even if it is proving impossible now. I should find it strange how easy it is to pack up a life and go someplace we have never been before, but it doesn’t phase me. I have moved too much, been on the road for too many years, been excluded and scared and left in fear too many times for it to bother me much. There will be a grocery store we can bicycle to, a park to walk around, a home to live in and a place to put my bed and my books and my Boy, and perhaps even the scruffy little terrier of my dreams who will walk with me round parks and sit with me smiling at the strangeness of it all.

I am mentally packing already. Putting San Francisco into a box, and shutting the lid on precious memories, consigning it to the past, just like everything else, except San Francisco has been mostly good and at one point absolutely life saving. I just can’t afford to stay here, on so many levels. I really don’t know anyone who can.


    1. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

      That is really kind of you to say! Thank you! I’ll manage somehow. Hauling boxes downstairs is what teenage boys are for, but I don’t think he can move a sofa alone. We will work it all out. I’ve plenty of time to get the move sorted, and find a new place. I could probably do it in a week if I had to…but no panic. I just needed to decide for once and for all it was too dangerous and too expensive and leave.

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