A Stranger in My Own City

The last time I really lived in San Francisco was in 1988, when I was 18. Quite a bit has happened since then, to both me and the city. It’s strangely familiar, but more strange than familiar. I remember the general areas of the city, but not the street names or how to get there. Some shops and restaurants I knew years ago are still here, but in some cases, entire blocks have literally vanished, buried under new condos or malls.

As with anything new–or renewed–everything makes an impression, sometimes false, sometimes true. I’m hyperaware of things that long-term residents probably don’t even think about: the numerous chains of grocery stores; the amazing proliferation of yoga studios–almost one per block, or so it seems; the staggering number of homeless on the streets; the multicultural stew of a population; the great food at even modest restaurants; and the dogs! dogs everywhere, and welcomed. We went to open a bank account today and even the bank had a dog bowl and doggie treats.

While I hate the disorientation and awkwardness that comes with not knowing where the drugstore is, say, there is something exciting about the exploration of a place I sort of know, but don’t. I’m looking forward to relearning my city.

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