On April 5, 1997--eight years ago today--I finished the last jag of my drive up Highway 1, which itself was the final leg of my cross-country journey, and drove into San Francisco.
My first day here seems both sharply clear and lost to the blur of memories: I came to the house on Cesar Chavez, where I'd live for a few months (thanks to Kristin) before fleeing for the Castro (thanks to the unbearable polyamorous, high colonic-giving, New Age drivel-spouting, selfish and mean-tempered housemate who drove me out). K helped me unpack my car and set up my tiny little room as best as possible, given its lack of furniture. That evening, we went out to Barney's with the Vassar crowd, and I left soon after dinner, tired and achy from the drive, to make my way through the quiet Noe Valley night and back to my new home. Beyond that, details are gone.
I've heard it said that your body essentially regenerates itself every 7 or 8 years, given the way cells grow and die. If that's true, the me that arrived in San Francisco in 1997 is literally a different person from the me sitting here and typing this post.
I'm not sure how much stock I put in that, but I do know that the figurative differences between Then Me and Now Me certainly hold. Amazing, isn't it, what 2,922 days' worth of watching friends come and go; feeling like you couldn't possibly be happier, then sadder, then happier again (before deciding that something more in the middle is a bit more sustainable); falling into and pulling yourself out of pits of heartbreak; finding and leaving jobs (then finding and leaving them again); seeing your city change around you; developing a set of street smarts with a distinctly California tinge to them; and all the while exploring, tasting, questioning, wanting to know and feel and think and do and see as much as possible--amazing how all of this can change you.
And though I sometimes long for life as I lived it in my early days here--back when work often seemed like silly fun, when the Odwalla was free, when it didn't occur to me that I'd eventually watch so many of my friends leave, when the heaviest parts of the adult world hadn't yet hit me--I know that, given the choice, I'd opt to stay here, with eight years of San Francisco behind me and thousands and thousands of days unfolding somewhere just ahead.