San Francisco

I’m still getting a feel for this place. There are too many different styles relatively close together. I’m outside the city, in the endless quiet suburbs, and it’s kind of boring. I actually miss being close to everything, rather than two train rides away from the center of town. It’s not as bad as it seems, I got used to the long trek in Mexico. I just miss the ability to around the block to a dozen different small stores when I want something. Here, everything takes time.

The city is interesting, but I’m working in a dark part of it. It’s strange to see the mix of well dressed people in trench coats walking past the homeless wearing rags. They don’t seem to feel the cold the way people with homes do. There is a difference between survival and living, and the skills of one don’t seem to transfer well to the other.

I wonder exactly what skills you develop on the street, the ways you learn to survive the cold, the hunger, having to watch someone wearing hundreds of dollars in clothes and technology refuse to give you less than a dollar. What is that life like? That’s part of what I am here to learn. The place I will be doing my internship is focused on that transition, learning how to live rather than survive. How to become one of the masses of consumers, keeping your head down, living in peace with ourselves. I wonder if it’s possible, with so many of us consumers unable to find that peace.

The first day at the company was interesting, and boring. There are always things to do when you begin, papers to fill out, people to meet, forms to sign. I still don’t really know what to expect, but I know there won’t be much down time. Everyone is friendly, the neighborhood is questionable with excellent food, and I know time will pass faster than I would like.

I think the biggest difference here is the air. Just being able to breathe here is like a drug. I can run up stairs without running out of air. I keep remembering the line from Fight Club, “oxygen gets you high.” I just love that I can get back to sleeping less than eight hours and not need a nap during the day. One of the benefits of living in the mountains is the increased lung capacity.

I find myself wandering around here, and in the city, but it feels different here. People are more isolated, less likely to say hello as they pass you. Either they are in a group, in their own little world, or the hold back, suspicious of someone saying hello in passing. It’s weird feeling more like a stranger at home than I did in Mexico. I don’t know what it is yet, but everything is different now. More importantly I’m different now. I know the fear spread by the media, but people act more afraid here than they do in a country where state sanctioned murder, rape, and terrorism is everywhere. I guess imagined fear can be as powerful as bodies in the street.

I think of what I might learn here, what could be, but I know the reality will be something else. I just wonder if I will lose more than I gain.

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