“One day I’ll go to heaven and say, “It ain’t that bad, but it ain’t San Francisco,” ” Herb Caen.
Last year I sat myself down and decided that no, I would not spend my 20th summer in a row lounging around my home-town going to the park and eating ice-cream, instead I would do the exact same thing, but somewhere else – in San Francisco.
To be honest, I had planned on going to France for the summer, but then my friend Danny asked me to go to SF (never ‘San Fran’ as I soon found out on my arrival, or ‘Frisco’ [that one even annoys me]) and I couldn’t resist. I genuinely did not have one clue about what to expect upon my arrival, all I had known was that that was THE bridge on which Leo spoke to the ‘Elders’ in Charmed and that was good enough for me! So, like the naive young man that I am, I let Danny organize everything and on May 27th 2012 I literally just showed up to the airport and hopped onto the plane, little did I know that I was about to experience the best 3 months of my life.
Everything about San Francisco captured my heart, the place, the people, the atmosphere, the diversity. Let’s just say that it certainly ain’t no Irish countryside. So, after our arrival, myself, Danny, Jamie, Shane and Carrie (all of whom I went to the US with) moved into our beautiful little house by the beach and with that everything slipped into place. I got 2 jobs, made lifelong friends and fell in love with the city.
One of the places that I worked in was the famous ‘Bubba Gumps’ in which you had to be ‘Gumpy’ 24/7 and I absolutely LOVED it! Having all of the bants with my co-workers, testing all of my customers with some Forrest Gump trivia, singing birthday songs to 40 year old bears of men while making them shake their booty in front of the entire restaurant (best moment of my life) and of course strengthening my Irish accent in order to increase my tip by the sentence 😛 I would literally walk into work broke and leave 5 hours later and be buying everyone shots, it was amazing. Oh, and I also got to be in a clip of an ad for the company… My first step to world domination 😉
Another thing about SF which I found astounding was the amount of cultural diversity and all of the ‘sub-cities’ it possessed. There was a China town, Japan town, an Italian district, the Castro, the city itself, the ‘stoner’ population on Haight Street and oh so much more that I can’t even fathom to remember. Each day you could go to a different part of the city and feel like you were in a whole new place, while still feeling the atmosphere that only SF can provide.
Due to all of this diversity and the mass of the city itself there was always something to do and something new to discover. One such thing was attending SF Pride. This was one of the most entertaining days of my life. From everyone in sight being drunken messes to seeing huge men wearing next to nothing whilst parading around in rainbow fairy wings it truly was hilarious. I also noticed an ‘adult store’ in the Castro entitled ‘Does Your Mother Know’ that day which is genuinely the best name I have ever seen.
I also loved the weather that we discovered stateside. Although most SF natives found it cold a lot of the time, being from Ireland and going to somewhere that is even moderately hot, everyday was a t-shirt and shorts day for me. Also, just a 40 minute drive away was Russian River where the weather was always unbelievable. There is genuinely nothing like lying by the river, soaking up the rays and having a few beers with your friends (yes, I did just say beers and not cans as we say in Ireland, but just be thankful that I said friends instead of ‘homies’).
Freedom was the cherry on top to give SF such a dear place in my heart. Everyone there was who they were and that was it. It didn’t matter if you were black, white (Michael Jackson eat your heart out), straight, gay, introverted, extroverted, had the most outlandish opinions on everything or were just completely out of the ordinary, you were who you were and everyone was accepted. This, I believe, is a wonderful thing and makes me want to go back to the city of my dreams more than anything else, and that’s exactly what the city is, a dream. As Paul Kantner said, “San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.”
So at that, I shall let you go while I daydream of spending a day with my SF friends relaxing in Dolores Park followed up by a night of very competitive beer pong and feel content with my 3 months that I had there.
San Francisco, I will be seeing you again soon and you better be ready and waiting!