written above valencia testing out an inflatable camping couch for future neighborhood gatherings on the street. edited in a coffee shop.
dear san francisco,
since day one, you've felt like home 🏡.
i thank you for a way no other city has been able to provide such a nourishing ecosystem for life and living.
you’re constantly buzzing with the stimulation of curious people. there is an expanse in the creative ambition of a pioneering spirit. it pairs well with the ability to belong with a bunch of self-proclaimed weirdos practicing being their authentic selves.
each part of your character is woven together by the drive for connection and gathering quilting a pattern of social fabric unlike anywhere else.
while year one has been a bunch of fun, know in previous arrangements, i’ve committed too much too quickly. i was intentional from the start that i'd check in one year in to see if it made sense to spend another year together.
time to see.
let's start with what i appreciate about you the most:
1. the ambition in the air. between the six-day hustle made normal where people aren’t afraid to plug back in on a sunday to get a head start on the week, or the drive to build an interesting future from nothing, the energy with you is electric. i appreciate the density of intelligence and hustle that’s constantly being experimented with and applied optimistically. coming from a city where most was theoretical or academic, this feels more aligned with how i operate.
2. being integrated with nature. coming from the east coast, i'm still surprised by the variety of plants, everywhere all at once. there are more plants in one block than the entirety of new england. they pair well with the views from the peaks and the prolonged sunset over the bay. the parks are refreshing as the seasonal sameness of a little bit of good weather all the time. even the day trips are magic, including driving down route one, the redwoods, lost coast, oak groves in santa rosa, and the hum near mt. shasta.
3. constant attention to detail. each block feels like a new surprise of ornament and vibrancy painted into each victorian. the food specializes in a locality that only makes sense in the bread basket of the u.s. like the daily pizza specials at arizmendi co-op on 24th. even with the people here, there is a shared level of self-awareness and pride in knowledge of knowing location down to the cross street.
4. presence of slowness. rather than a quick moving bustle that can miss out, i appreciate such a place that can enjoy a four-hour cooking collab up to enjoying a three-hour meal with meaningful conversation. from the birth of the slow food movement to slow streets, especially on valencia, i appreciate acknowledging a human pace that is hard to come by in a remote world powered by sleepless machines and feeds.
5. celebration of food as expression. in craft (freshly baked bread at the mill or ice cream at bi rite creamery), in connection to the local (california take on cuisines, like burma love), and in culture (sheer diversity of kinds of places to eat), there is a lot to be expressed and celebrated. so much so, the foodies here seem to all keep a pocket google map trying to collect the best spots like an explorer pinning new places.
oddly enough, one of my favorite parts of living in the mission is the walkability between grocery stores, from the specialty sour creams at mi ranchitas to the daily fresh produce at farmers' market produce on 24th, there is an abundance representing the best that california has to offer for food to play with in cooking.
ending with a cherished memory, i appreciate the introduction to a solid mezze menu. it started at (1) beit rima in deboce, (2) included the specialties at samiramis on 26th with 💣 mhammara, and (3) made its way to the spread at old jeurseulum.
small plates and finger bites family style have inspired many home-cooked gatherings. thank you
up next, let's move into the moments that made this year worthwhile, but first a night wind-down walk in the mission.
ps. this letter is inspired by other great pieces on cities, like paul graham's essay on cities and ambition.
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