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On the city vs. the Country
Realizing I'm a Country Boy
This was originally posted in 2014.
I used to live in the suburbs. I would sit on my porch with my dog and a bottle of wine or Jack Daniels listening to the thunderstorms all evening long. I left that home for an apartment in downtown Nashville before moving to San Francisco three years ago. Since about two years ago, I have had an incredible view from my apartment. The skyscrapers with their twinkling lights and Vanilla Sky sunsets have always inspired me.
But something has gone wrong in San Francisco and those same lights no longer make me wonder. The sounds of the city that filled me with awe now fill me with rage. My apartment has an unobstructed view north towards Market Street from Folsom St. And I’m sixteen stories up. It’s quite a sight to behold. 180 degrees of humanity’s building prowess. It’s much more Manhattan than it is classic San Francisco, but that’s what makes it so unique. Not many people in SF have this view and it stops many visitors dead in their tracks. It’s by far my favorite part of the apartment.
Last fall, some signs went up stating that my view was going to be blocked by a massive 30-something story skyscraper going up in the parking lot directly in front of view, the centerpiece of art in an otherwise pretty normal place that costs an astronomical amount of money unjustifiable in any other city in the United States (save arguably New York, where I would never live).
Now, I thought that the skyscraper was simply going to block my view and that would be the end of it. As I always do when something horrible happens, like a car accident, I accepted my fate and the fact that my emotional investment would be lost. I didn’t panic.
But I should have.
See, SOMA is a shithole. It always has been, but despite all of the new construction and influx of residents, it’s actually gotten much, much worse. It’s now filled with mind-numbing amounts of construction noise, bumper to bumper gridlock, and assholes riding Harleys who seem to want to contribute to both.
My view? Still pretty good. But my place? Unlivable. The sound from the steel girders banging against each other starting at 7am each morning wakes me up six days a week. The sound of it being cut and hammered into place is louder than the jackhammers pounding away at the concrete that they seem to dig up and replace on a weekly basis as if that One Trillion Dollars of “stimulus” money was ever actually spent (does anyone actually remember that?).
The situation got so bad that all I had to do was show my landlord a video of the construction and he immediately agreed to let me out of my lease. He probably thought that he could rent the place for higher than what I was paying. Instead he’s now struggling to rent it for barely 60% of my rent. It may be the only unit in San Francisco where they are having to lower the rent massively in order to find a tenant. It’s horrible.
Meanwhile, I had to spend months finding a new place to live. In San Francisco, that’s nearly a full time job. As CEO of a technology company, that’s nearly impossible. But persistence and optimism tend to lead to success, so I found one. And next week I am moving to Potrero. And it has something that no other place of the dozens that I have looked at in my years in San Francisco has: a garden.
Previously, my new apartment was inhabited by a start up. It’s also a shithole. And the garden is dead. But I’m having the place painted and fixed up. And after I move in, I’m going to learn to garden and bring it back to life. I’m looking forward to getting another dog and have already sat on my little porch and listened to the beautiful sound of nothing, bringing back memories of my porch in the country. Sometimes you have to take a chance at something to realize you had it right the first time.