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Dear San Francisco,
My whole life you have seen me grow, from a crying, scared new born to a confident young woman walking through the crowded streets. You keep all of the secrets of the people living in the houses erected on your hills. Share wonderful memories of love, friendship, and adventure. You are my best friend. All the nights walking to the bus from the beach. All the times I had to walk for three miles up a hill to get home because of a bus delay from a parade. The days you blessed me with sun and warmth just so I could have a picnic with the person who would eventually turn into my boyfriend. Days you poured down on the hard concrete making the air smell fresh, making us laugh from almost falling in a puddle of rainwater, and even having birds try to steal our burgers right out of our hands. All the “hello” and “goodbye” waves from friendly strangers on a random day. Walking down to Haight Street to get a tapioca shake from the little coffee shop I frequently go to before school.
You have given me wonderful experiences, from the food, school, friends, and parties. Most people think of you as a super tourist place and where people go to hit the clubs. I’ve seen the softer side of you, with all your hidden treasures. You never have a dull moment, no matter what. There’s always something interesting and intriguing to do. Your hidden parks, like Battery Park, community oriented gatherings and celebrations. All the rallies to help raise awareness of our school systems, and holiday celebrations in your parks. All the diversity of the residents really makes you more than your hot clubs, tourist’s spots and Giant’s games. Your hole in the wall restaurants, free museum days, cozy parks, and beaches make it impossible stay indoors. The smell of the salt water down by Ocean beach, the tourists eating clam chowder bowls on pier thirty-nine, the experienced hands of someone’s mom making pupusas in the mission, the sound of the train rounding the corner in the sunset, and all the boys playing basketball in Bernal Heights. All some of the sounds that I grew up with. You prepared me for the world, bringing all different types of people into my life with all the tourists, the carnivals, parades and residents.
Although you continue to fascinate me with all your wonderful secrets, I wonder of about all the things that make me tearful. How can you let so many people living in the cold, hard streets? I want to know why there are so many drugs so close to children? I want to know why some streets are more dangerous than others? Shouldn’t all streets be safe to walk around after a certain hour? Things are this way now, but I hope they change for the better. I always wonder if I’ve left my print on you? If my every step has made it into the music that you make everyday, or if my soft perfume has mixed with the air that glides through all the streets. You raised me to be who I am today, and one day my children will feel the way I feel about you. I don’t see myself away from you, because you are home. No matter how far I go, I’ll always find my way back to my city, the center of my soul.