September 1st marks my 7th anniversary of living in San Francisco. My San Franniversary, if you will. Instead of sharing a bunch of pictures of myself doing silly things that I love to do in my favorite place in the world, today I want to share some special people who have helped make this place feel like a home over these last 7 years.
The first person I want to introduce you to is Terry. Terry is a dog walker in Alamo Square and has been walking dogs for 20 years. (I actually don’t have a picture of Terry on my phone right now, just a picture of his many dogs.) I met Terry back in my dog walking days when I used to walk Rufus up to Alamo Square. It’s special to me that Terry also knew and loved Rufus. Terry also owns 5 Rottweilers who I have had the pleasure of getting to know since they were just a few weeks old. Terry walks by my house every day with his pack of dogs, blasting his music, and will stop and chat with me whenever I’m sitting on my front stoop.
The second picture I’d like to share is Ai Linh. I call her Linh. Linh does my nails. we bonded a few years ago when she shared with me about her struggles with anxiety and how massage has helped her through a lot of difficult times. She also has a very chatty daughter named Linda who is way too cool for me. She started running her own nail salon over 10 years ago but recently opened another nail and massage spa down the street and is transforming her former salon into a Vietnamese restaurant because she wanted to provide affordable comfort Vietnamese food in the neighborhood. I, for one, cannot wait to have goi cuon (fresh spring rolls) right across the street from me!
Next is a picture of Guy. Guy sells flowers Wednesdays through Sundays on Noe Street. He always wears a colorful outfit and often a hat. He reminds me of a flower. Every time Chelsea and I see him he always asks us if we’re twins.
This is Jeffrey. I met Jeffrey in 2016 when I got off the bus on Haight Street with my bike and he asked me if I needed help with my bike. My bike had broken earlier that day. Jeffrey runs a bike shop in his garage and fixes discarded bikes and resells them. He’s a crafty bitch like that. Jeffrey can’t remember my name (but then again he does have a tattoo of his own name on his arm, just in case he forgets), but he knows me and Hamilton. Thank you for my favorite cruiser, Jeffrey!
Tony is our mailman. I obviously got to know him a bit better as we’ve been home every day for… 531 days. Hamilton used to bark at him when he came to the top of the steps to deliver the mail, but over the last year and half Ham has started to either recognize his scent or his footsteps and no longer barks. When I say hi to Tony he always asks, “Where’s Scooby Doo?” and then he tells me that Hamilton is very lazy. He likes to jump down the last two steps of our stoop and he always has a smile on his face and such a palpable zest for life.
I met Natalie very recently and found out she’s a kindred plant lady. She loves to garden and has ALL the indoor plants. She started SF Plant Swaps with a little shelfie outside of Rare Device where people can drop off plant cuttings, give away plants or pots and take home donated ones to give them a new home. I technically met Natalie from instagram, but because the plant swap has been going for over a year now i feel like i’ve known her a lot longer. It’s people like Natalie who want to share something they are passionate about with the people around them that makes me feel pride in my little community neighborhood.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about Alden. Alden started her own clay studio, Wheelhouse Clay, and I am so honored to be a member. Alden is definitely a girl boss, although she likes to refer to herself as the “mama” of Wheelhouse. One thing i love about what Alden is doing is that she is intentionally creating a beautiful community space that is inclusive, celebrates diversity and is so much more than just a place for folks to make ceramics. This is truly the clay community I have been looking for. Thank you Alden for sharing this place with me.
As I reflect on these special people who make my neighborhood feel like home, I wish that everyone could experience what I feel when I walk by these friends and say hi. While so many people are constantly traveling every weekend or picking up their stuff and moving to a new city every couple of years, I am not surprised when friends tell me they don’t feel a strong sense of community. Building this network of familiar faces has taken me a long time, but it finally feels like this is where I’m meant to be.