Our trip to the Bay Area was surreal. We had the pleasure of staying with our Framily (the Logans). Their home feels like our home, even though they had only just moved in when we moved away. So much of our old community vibe lives there, that it was like stepping back into routine. And unlike our family, theirs is supremely tranquil. We also had the good fortune to connect with a few old and seriously dear friends, strengthening relationships that have been mostly on hold since we left.
In spite of our best efforts, including a coffee social to beat all coffee socials (30+ people showed up, the furthest came from Olympia, WA) there were still a few really important people we couldn’t connect with. I had a pretty serious drop on our last day when I accounted for the missed connections. But that is what happens when you try to squeeze 13 years of community into 10 days of visiting.
The city part of our trip was the beginning of the surreal. I had forgotten how much poverty and despair exist there. The vignette that will stick with me started as we approached Market and 8th, on our way back from Sightglass Coffee. The sound of a wailing, moaning, homeless man filled and overpowered my senses. I felt the long forgotten feeling of emotional withdrawal, and noticed, through my attenuated awareness, that others were drawing inward too, ignoring his obvious suffering. We were stopped, standing next to him, all eyes forward, waiting for the light. A silver Tesla was idling in front of me, waiting for traffic to clear.
This economic disparity, my immediate reactive withdrawal, and the almost as immediate desire to buy something pretty and shiny, all hit me in waves, punctuated by the slightly muted pain of this man in his wheelchair. The light changed and we lept off the curb towards the safety of the other side. We walked quickly until we reached the Old Navy and as I turned into the store, was greeted with a 5 year old mannequin dressed in a shirt that said “If it sparkles, hold on forever.” I excused myself, found a place to sit down, donned my headphones and retreated inward.
The flip side of this emotional tumult was gustative and kinky in nature. San Francisco maintains its place in my mind as the most open minded and delicious city in the world. I’ll keep testing this conclusion, but to date, it stands victorious. Where else can you find an entire warehouse sized coffee shop, a five star vegan restaurant, a taco joint with a 1 hour wait, and a kink cafe specializing in GF treats, coffee and BDSM gear?
So it was that my experience in the Bay Area ran the gamut from dear friends sharing parenting tips and wholesome conversation, to terrifyingly sad socioeconomic disparity, to sexy delicious adventuring. Throughout it all ran a thread of undercurrent, suggesting that I may have changed quite a bit, but that I still very much came from this place, and it and the people who I call my community there have contributed in a clear and measurable way to who I am today.