I am a native New Yorker, and people tell me I am a pretty cosmopolitan girl. I grew up in New York, I love New York and have always had pumped about Manhattan in my cute outfits. However, I recently returned to NYC after nearly a decade in Floripa, Brazil, and to be quite honest something has changed. Or maybe I have changed. The people seem caught up in petty materialism, talk of the Yankees is boring me to tears and I just am not as into New York life as I used to be. I have often pondered San Francisco life, though I have never been there, and I wonder if a native Manhattan lass like me could do the Bay. I am a hetero single woman, and I am in my thirties. I just don’t want to be another Carrie Bradshaw-type cliché so caught up in shoes and trying to make appearances at parties that I lose site of the bigger things. Could a native New Yorker like me really rock San Francisco? Charles, what do you think as a new Bay Area convert?
You sound fierce. I’d go for it.
Though I only spent my university years in New York City, I was very much enamored with the idea of NYC in my youth, and San Francisco was always a distant second. The thing is I didn’t expect to like SF all that much, but I love it here because of the freedom it gives me and the fact that I feel healthy here.
By a fortunate nexus of luck and circumstance I ended up in the Bay City, but having lived in New York for a while I’ll share with you what a native New Yorker might deal with coming here:
1. New York is one of the great world cities. San Francisco doesn’t have quite the cosmopolitan gloss that makes New York so dazzling. That being said there are enough educated and well-traveled people here that I often feel stimulated in San Francisco as well.
2. What is this train? I like the BART train system, but the fucking MUNI train is like riding Thomas the Goddamn Tank Engine. It is slow and seems to have no logic to it. If I am in a hurry I take BART/taxi, and I know the MUNI drivers could go faster as I have been to the terminus of MUNI, and the driver is just sitting there for 20 minutes eating a fucking ham sandwich or something when I have a places to go.
After New York and Tokyo, I always wanted a walking city, but San Francisco is a little less pedestrian friendly in comparison. I still get around fine on foot, though. Not having a car did hinder me somewhat in my job search as places like San Jose/Silicon Valley are annoying to get to without a car.
3. New York is the financial capital of America, but San Francisco is the capital of 21st century media. Twitter, Google, Facebook, Apple are all within the vicinity, and I am really excited to be here for that reason. That being said these tech companies are really closer to San Jose than San Francisco, which technically is part of the Bay Area, but definitely requires an automobile.
4. New Yorkers are fashion leaders and have a certain ornateness and polish to their look. You definitely meet women in Manhattan that dress to the nines. In San Francisco, you just need to dress to three and a half. Havaiana flip-flops in the office? Sure! Denim is everywhere, but I see a lot of professional women here that dress up their looks with a lot of wrap around sweater type outfits, as although SF isn’t really cold – it is chilly consistently even now in July, and their sweaters of have a soft Parisian lushness to them (did I mention there are a large number of French people here, also, which I like).
5. SF is more dangerous than I expected. I had this rosy colored image of SF as a place where gays and hippies prance about happily with flowers in their hair. Nobody told me about the Tenderloin (or the Tenderoni as I call it). Junkies, hookers and street urchins populate this area that is deceptively hiding near posh Nob Hill. Last week when I went to a movie theater near there, I saw a pimp yell at a toothless hooker, “You can go back to selling your pussy in the street,” after which the woman kicked him! I high tailed it to the Van Ness AMC, since I am sure someone was going to get stabbed.
Even the homeless in New York need to hustle and survival is more tough. NYC has more drive and ambition and is more physically taxing. In contrast, San Francisco is clearly the end of the line for a lot of these poor souls that live in and around this area. They can go no farther west, and San Francisco’s amicable weather means they can stay year round. Of course some hipsters seem to think that the Tenderloin is divine, and I am sure it is great if you are the type of person who is into creatively slumming it. Tenderoni is def not Impossibly Glamorous.
I would also warn you about Bay View/Hunter’s Point, but the taxi wouldn’t even take me there so I have never been to said cesspool. San Francisco does rank among America’s safest cities, though, so just be wary as you would in Manhattan.
6. Dating is of course great for me. There are lots of choices for gay men in their ’30s -’60s to hang out which I love because a lot of small cities there are not many places to go if you aren’t a cute 20 something. The lesbian scene seems fairly well-populated and visible, as well.
I asked some straight girls, and they said that they did have a pretty good selection of bachelors and went out on dates. One of them did seem frustrated that the high population of gay males made things more tough, but the other ones did not think this is the case. Overall, I think San Francisco is one the world’s most romantic cities, and couples holding hands and general canoodling publicly is pretty common for all sexual orientations.
7. While we are talking about love and sex, lets talk about kink. I think San Francisco makes people one level kinkier. Nudity and bondage are nothing shocking. Even though I considered myself fairly vanilla for a gay guy, leather, fetish and other types mischief are more accessible and seem like fun here rather than dirty. When you just saw some elderly guy ride down the Castro naked on a tricycle, who gives a fuck about some whips and chains? I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it. Na na na COME ON!!
8. I’m Less Judgemental: Weird crap happens all the time here, and people actually say all the time, “Don’t judge, this is San Francisco.” I used to hate smelly hippies and overly-PC types, but I have learned to love them, even when they say annoying crap like, “You have really good energy.” I am also healthier in general since it is sunny more often, and I find ways to go outside more.
9. People are Lazy: Since it is sunny, and a lot of California has beach culture, people are lazy. It is good for New Yorkers, because they are used to working hard and easily out-perform the Lazy Hippies o’ Cali. But then you’ll become lazy, too. Come on! The sun is shining! And that café looks so inviting. Which is why I sometimes call this city The Land of the Lotus Eaters i.e. the island in the ancient Greek epic, The Odyssey, where everyone is a useless slacker that prefers that grassy knoll just like the loadies lolling about Dolores Park all the live long day.
10. They say it is just as expensive in San Fran than New York, but it really isn’t. I found my first place here after 3 days of intense searching on Craigslist, but you need to show up with your checkbook in your hand as it will be going … going … gone. Craiglist’s classified has somehow created a near monopoly on the real estate search so don’t even bother with an agent. Just move swiftly!
Food is plenty pricey though. I generally don’t eat fast food burgers, but I intensely craved Burger King for some reason this week and almost fainted when I realized I had to pay $10 for that “Whopper” made out of rat meat or ground Pomeranian or whatever they put in there at Burger King. Yes, and that large pizza you just ordered delivered to your door cost you 30 goddamn dollars.
11. Calamities: Though I might be a complete moron for moving to SF after living in Japan during the 2011 earthquake, I feel safer here just because the buildings are lower and things are spread out. Also, if something bad happened in SF, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento are so close they could absorb the shocks. I think the area as a whole has a stability to it. That being said, I don’t feel SF is a terrorist target really because let’s be honest, the people who have it in for the USA have their sites on New York, Washington DC and maybe … maybe LA or Chicago. I think SF barely makes the top ten. I am pretty sure Osama bin Laden had San Francisco somewhere on his list after bombing the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas or the Golf Ball building at Epcot Center in Florida. San Francisco is not a focal point of world power, which makes San Francisco much more appealing than other world cities if you fear terrorism.
So in conclusion dear Tallulah, I thought I would rep the East Coast all my life after escaping my childhood in the Midwest. Tupac still has nothing on Biggie Smalls’ hustle and flow. And I cannot bring myself to use the slang intensifier “Hella”—but why don’t you sublet that TriBeCa loft and give it a try here in the Haight or Sunset for a while? Just don’t ever call SF “San Fran” or “Frisco” or the natives will shank you … or they would if they could get up off their lazy asses long enough.
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