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Good riddance, San Francisco: I’m leaving the Bay Space for New York, however it’s greater than a pandemic exodus

Kristina Quient (left) and Tracy Quient have just come to visit from Long Beach. You don’t have to live here. Photo: Paul Kuroda / Special on The Chronicle 2020

For the record, I wanted to go before COVID made it cool. From the moment my fiancé dragged me to this enchanted folly on the hillside, I wanted to scurry back east. But now, after six years of relentless nagging, we’re finally doing it.

And if anyone asks, I left this town first.

Michelle Kobler Photo: SRK headshot

Every breakup has winners and losers, but I don’t think about who I am. No matter what, I’m fine. Serious. More than good. As soon as we land in New York, I’ll devour a cream cheese-coated bagel at Russ & Daughters and forget that this place ever existed. If I could, I’d take the boat, only to toss overboard to get rid of marbled pastrami.

Goodbye City by the Bay! Pompous peninsula with permanently unsightly parks. Who likes to sit in the icy fog or suffocate forest fire smoke? Did you even know that you can use nature for more than just hiking? A country without snow, but only after a pandemic did it become clear that classical concerts could be held outdoors? To discover outdoor dining? Was it better if your pristine parks were only used by pantomime troops and yoga enthusiasts? Ugh, forget it and build a skyscraper already.

You call that skyline? Give me New York every day. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / Die Chronik 2020

Peace out, Golden Gate! Horror show of geniuses wearing hoodies celebrating hackathons to solve problems without fighting poverty. Eddy Street is teeming with people pissing on the sidewalk, banging fentanyl in the alleys, looking for anything between tents, and none of them are another stupid algorithm. But you do, tweak opiate pushers into branded swag, sway your big data energy and human-computer interaction, I’m sure what you’re doing is good too.

Sayonara, hippies! Birthplace of gig-glorified servants who snatch food for the efficiently authorized. Has this city done a job it couldn’t outsource? Swap Clement Street vendors selling daikon, maitake, and bright, bulging berries who have never known industrialized shrink wrap for drone-delivered grocery cartons because it’s a little easier? Ignoring California’s bounty because you only have time for leftovers from the company canteen? What a wretched waste.

What is the fog about here anyway? Photo: Paul Chinn / The Chronicle 2012

Suck it, Karl! City of absent-minded nightlife where the last call is midnight, which – even with the time zone difference – is earlier than New York City. We limit ourselves to glass office crawlers, drink whiskey from mugs, remember picklebacks in Rogue, indie films in Kabuki or shrimp dumplings in Hong Kong Lounge II. Pouring out one for each burnt, bought or broken memory.

Farewell, Frisco! City where, when I didn’t feel tied down, I ran all the way to your edge in search of a home; Desperately looking for the bad-tempered, sharp-tongued, elbow-fresh east coast towns of my youth, I found the sea instead.

It’s as easy to shop at local stores like T&L Market in Richmond, but you’d prefer to have it delivered by a large store. Photo: Jessica Christian / Die Chronik

I found where the land plunges into haunting cliffs, the sun rises and the waves churn. I found where cyclists dodge matt lacquered Teslas, granny’s pea sprouts rush in Cantonese, sour leaf stews are served next to coconut milk curries, Mahjong tiles beat cracking rhythms behind open doors and a crowd yells “Hallelujah” at Martuni because this is definitely not one Church, but could still pass as a religion.

A place where parrots screech and nudists sunbathe and leather crackles down Folsom Street.

Something you might only see in San Francisco: Tlesa Meadowcroft (left) gets it from Kendra Monroe at the Folsom Street Fair. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle 2016

A place where the view is framed by my feet, my hands, and my hot, stupid tears.

I now know that no matter where I go or how long it takes to get there, part of me will always remember that view, and it will make me feel like …

Longing.

Goodbye, San Francisco.

It’s time to go and it’s breaking my heart

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