Slow Flow Life in San Francisco vs. New York

San Francisco, April 4–Arrived from NY last night and am staying with my friends Judy and Brent in Bernal Heights, a neighborhood up the hill from the Mission District. There are four coffeehouses, two nail parlors, a library and a yoga studio within a six-block stretch on Cortland Street, Bernal Height’s main drag. Oh yes, and four parks, two popular with dog owners, the others popular with parents of small children.
Walking around this morning–between my first latte in Tom’s Coffee House, and my second at Moonlight Cafe & Creperie, I thought about whether I could live comfortably in Bernal Heights with a husband, a teenager, and an 110 pound dog. –I think we’d very much enjoy this neighborhood.
As the school year winds down, my family continues to discuss whether we are better off living for our family to live on the East Coast or on the West Coast.
When we first moved back to New York after three years in Silicon Valley, we were eager to return to a town we’d lived in before, so we chose South Orange, a diverse suburb 25 minutes west of Manhattan. But one of the first things I noticed as I started walking around South Orange once again is that nobody looks very happy.
In fact, the everyday expression on many people’s faces in South Orange seems to be of diffuse and free-floating suspicion and hostility. These sour faces are born out of the fear that someone might pull something on them if they don’t watch out . At constant risk of being blown away, you’ve gotta be vigilant.
The flowers in front of all the houses in Judy and Brent’s neighborhood, the sharply slanted hills, pedestrians who smile when you walk past them, the large percentage of cheap pho joints and taquerias–none of these are complete reasons to move across the country to California, but they’re all factors. The smile factors, I suppose. The people on the bus don’t scowl at you factors.
Truth is, even if we’re not admitting it, we’re moving. Somehow in the space of three years in Silicon Valley, despite all the newspaper we read, the bagels we devours, and the arguments about movies and politics, we became Californians.
Time to go home.