Went up to San Francisco with the girls earlier this week to have lunch with my sister. The girls scampered into the car with their sundresses and sandals on and as I climbed into the front seat, something triggered deep down in my brain and I ran back into the house for heavy jackets and yoga pants they could slide on under their dresses.
How quickly we forget.
We were having lunch near 9th & Irving close to where we used to live in Cole Valley. "There's Tata's old house!" I pointed out. "There's where Mamma and Papa used to live before we had kids!" I indicated, but who could see through the fog, which was rolling over Cole Valley thick as pea soup.
We arrived at the restaurant where I snagged a spot in front. There was a time that I'd rather walk 15 blocks from a non-metered spot than to have to pay 25 cents for 7 minutes. "Screw that," I thought, pulled into the metered spot then realized I had no quarters. I've gone soft. The days when I used to go the bank to get two rolls of quarters (for laundry and parking) are long gone. Luckily my sister had a bunch of quarters.
Then it happened.
As soon as I saw my first hipster in a thrifted Super Tramp t-shirt layered over a striped shirt wearing over-sized vintage sunglasses, skinny jeans and a "can't be bothered" look, I knew I was way over city living. I like my bubble where I can wear my standard mom-uniform of a long-sleeved Target t-shirt, jeans and covered Crocs (the ones everyone hates) and not feel judged. I love dressing up, I just don't want to have to do it every day. I like that all the moms at my kids' school wear some version of my mom uniform. Emo kids would probably burst into flames from the sheer horror of it if they had to stand outside my daughter's kindergarten classroom. All those microfibers and plastic shoes. And oh god, Ugg boots! "New clothes!" I like my bubble.
Let's just get it out there: don't like thrift stores. They stink, and I don't want to touch other people's unwashed clothes. When I, with my mad sale-scouting and bargain-hunting skillz, can find something brand new that has never been worn before for thrift store prices, I don't see the point. My idea of a bargain is a $30 ring for $3.99. Or $300 shoes for $40. Or Target t-shirts. All my best "vintage" stuff (Hermes scarves, fur stoles, beaded purses, real jewelry that looks fake) I got from my grandmother or my mother. They were shoppers. Nuff said. I like my bubble.
I contemplated taking the girls to the new playground in Golden Gate Park this week, cuz it's spring break, but after 2 hours in the fog zone yesterday I said, "Eff that." Instead we spent 5 hours at the park in my town yesterday. Friends rolled in and out. We packed a picnic. Took advantage of the surrounding attractions, and biked home in time to have baths and start dinner. And all the while, I looked up at the beautiful oak trees, and thought, " I don't want to be wearing three coats just to enjoy the outdoors. I like my bubble." Recently a family from Massachusetts moved in down the street and they are outside all. the. time. She nurses the baby while her kid rides around the driveway on his trike. They sit outside chatting and playing until the sun is completely down. I think they like the bubble, too.
Does it feel a little Truman show-ish at times? A little. But for all the neighbors who are friendly and have kids that my kids play with outside for hours on end, there are neighbors who have never been friendly and who we don't know. Could I stay within the limits of my bubble, have everything I need, and never leave? I suppose. Today the girls and I are going to bike over to the museum in our community and have lunch—it's a treasure so I can't say we lack culture in a broad sense. We have theater here. And music and art. (And lots of thrift stores.) There are people here who are passionate about causes and are working to effect change. There are libraries in every community. Plenty of parks. Too much stuff for kids to do. Just no food scene at all, which is okay since we are kinda past that phase in our lives, and I like to cook at home.
But it is expensive to live here, and so I choose to shop for lots of things like food and clothes outside the bubble where I can find it cheaper. There's nothing like a city for food deals and shopping bargains.
But could I live in a city again? I think about it all the time. Last year, during BlogHer, I marveled at Chicago's beauty and found myself missing living in a city. Chicago in particular had all the right combinations for me: infectious energy, interesting architecture, proximity to water, walkable blocks, lively pockets of buzz and activity, and really, really nice people. The mid-western thing. If only it didn't snow there, I would be begging my family to move.
Despite all the things that piss me off about it, I do like living so close to San Francisco and for those coming the BlogHer 08, I hope our city turns on her charm for you. (Just keep in mind that the venue is like NY's Times Square only smaller. Get away from Union Square to see the real city.) We called San Francisco home for so many years. Left and moved back twice. It definitely has an allure for me. Always will. But could I move back?
As we drove home from San Francisco down 280 (aka "The World's Most Beautiful Freeway") and the fog melted away to reveal rolling velvet hills and a blindingly blue cloudless skies I found my answer.
Who else likes their bubble? Former city-dwellers come clean!