San Francisco serenade
"We're through," I cried out one cool,
foggy morning. "I'm leaving you."
San Francisco was shocked.
"Leaving me? Impossible! You've said it a million
times, but you'll never go. Everyone knows you're going to live
"I'm going," I replied, slightly more
than half-heartedly. "Just watch."
And so began the break-up of a beautiful, complicated
15-year relationship. We've been through a lot, San Francisco
and me -- the earthquake, the technology revolution, El Niño.
We've watched favorite restaurants come and go. We've downed countless
We've shared foggy Fourth of Julys, watching obscured
fireworks turn gray mist into red, white and blue -- oohing and
aahing the fog-muffled kabooms.
We celebrated the 50th anniversary of our beloved
Golden Gate Bridge. We proudly watched Chris Isaak go from Local
Ham to Big Star. We jumped for joy as Joe Montana and Jerry Rice
gave us the Team of the '80s.
We watched a ballpark finally get built.
Yes, we'd seen much together, San Francisco and
me. But it was time to go.
"You're leaving me for another city, aren't
you?" San Francisco accused. "Don't lie -- which one?"
"Portland," I sheepishly replied.
"Portland!" screamed San Francisco.
"That rain-soaked, Subaru-infested, fleece-wearing, tree-hugging,
minor-league town? Have you lost your mind?"
The fight got down and dirty.
"I still love you," I said, "but
we can't go on living together. You've become too demanding, too
high-maintenance. When we met, you were a quirky, navigable city.
But you changed during the dot.com-boom. Now you're nothing more
than a high-rent, crowded, rat race with a view. You've become
..." I paused for effect "... Manhattanized."
San Francisco sneered. "And what do you know
of high rents? You've been coasting on my rent-control policy
It was true. I'd indulged in a spacious one-bedroom
for under $1,000 a month -- for longer than I cared to admit.
But what once felt like a gift now felt like golden handcuffs.
And for this I resented San Francisco.
"Keep your rent control," I shot back.
"I'm sick of being held hostage by an apartment. Besides,
I can get more for my money in Portland -- a balcony, a fireplace.
Maybe even afford to buy.
"And another thing: your parking stinks. You
used to cough up a spot after 15 minutes. Which wasn't great,
but I dealt with it because I loved you. Lately I circle for 25,
sometimes 30 minutes -- for nothing! In Portland, I find downtown
parking almost right away."
Then I struck my final blow.
"And what about all those summers you've denied
me over the years? I'm not talking a wet, windy 62 degrees in
August. I'm talking real summer -- where it hits the 80s and people
sit outside at night in short sleeves. They do that in Portland."
A pained expression spread across San Francisco
like fog creeping in over the bay. The highly agitated city retaliated
with a direct hit:
"This isn't about parking. And it's not about
cold summers either. This is really about those Internet stock
options you chased for two years that never panned out. Your house
down payment went the way of the dot.bombs. Admit it -- you just
can't afford me. It's you who changed."
A cruel blow, but true. I did love San Francisco,
but it had become too high-priced.
And so I left for Portland -- a magical city of
trees and rivers, distinctive bridges, affordable housing and
no sales tax. A fine and lovely place.
However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss San
Francisco in spite of its ways. I think often of the good times
we shared, its unique beauty and its cosmopolitan tastes.
Regardless of our past, I look forward to keeping
in touch. Perhaps we'll do lunch, or have a weekend fling for
old times' sake. Who knows, we may even get back together one
But meanwhile, as I scan Portland's skyline from
my historical balcony overlooking a yet-to-be-explored neighborhood,
I can't help thinking that one bridge really does lead to another.