My steam heat clatters and clanks in its metal cage tucked in the corner of my cozy and mildly over-priced studio apartment (I pay for a lifestyle, I justify to myself). The 30x bus coughs and sighs outside as it carries iPhone (and a few straggling Blackberry) yielding suits to their respective offices downtown. The hardwood flooring creaks under my bare feet as the sounds of fellow tenants rousing from their beds echoes in the shared breezeway, coming through the cracked window inside my shower. “Be wary of what you say in your bathroom”, my building manager once said, “if you don’t want 306, 406 and 506 to know any of your secrets”. Be also wary of where you place your favorite shampoo—one wrong elbow nudge and it may plummet to its death at the bottom of the air shaft, a place I can never seem to fully bring myself to look down into.
Another day living in the Marina has begun.
I will be the first to admit my neighborhood gets a bit of a bad, yet not entirely unwarranted, reputation. We are often referred to as fraternity and sorority row as our collection of young professionals (hint: finance, corporate, tech and a side of start up) still sometimes embodies a young and wild and free energy that can induce an eye roll or two from outsiders. The frustrations of 20-something women analyzing a text message conversation from the night before can be heard in many of our local spots (“but seriously, what does this really mean?”). Sometimes the fault lies in the behavior of their most recent man-slice (charming, fit, successful, heavily influenced by his friends); other times it can be pointed at the gal hoping for his attention (charming, fit, successful, heavily influenced by her friends).
“Cute” is the word of the hour; tops, shoes, puppies, boys, girls, moms with strollers. “Cute” is our token adjective. Nobody loves or does a Sunday trifecta of brunch--shopping--mani/pedis quite like a Marina girl. Nobody appreciates Bud Lights--take out--bromances quite like a Marina guy.
But there is much more to this neighborhood than a few Peter Pans, unwilling to fully grow up yet, and the Wendys who spend too much time believing they can change them. We teach people how to treat us, after all. We create the buttons being pushed, make the assumptions and take things unnecessarily personally regardless of location. I’d venture to say the dating scene here really isn’t much different than anywhere else in the world--folks just searching for something or someone to varying degrees of “serious”. Folks just searching in general. Seeing as within any neighborhood I’d bet I could find a bruised ego or two caused by insecurities and miscommunications in a relationship (does anyone else wish dating didn’t involve texting and Facebook?) I choose to look at my neighborhood through eyes of total love and gratitude.
On a school morning the sound of tween-aged girls and boys squealing, laughing and oh-so-awkwardly interacting can be heard on Chestnut Street. Having a middle school here ensures a level of ‘safe’ that, while slightly geeky to admit, helps me feel better about walking home. The strong presence of young families helps to create a nook of small town community in an otherwise bustling city. The sound of the foghorn, barely noticeable to anyone who inhabits this side of town after a period of time, lulls us all to sleep--a reminder of the beautiful, immense sea just around the corner. We are alive with hopeful energy on a Saturday night. We are deliciously calm and quiet on early Sunday mornings. The Palace of Fine Arts glows in our evenings; the sailboats and sea gulls ride the breeze in our days.
Admit it, you’ve totally checked out a Marina girls butt before (the secret is in the Lululemon), enjoyed a margarita or 3 at Tacolicious and had a “damn, that view never gets old” moment down by Crissy Field after your run along the Bay. The Marina can be quite the guilty pleasure if you let it. (And nope, that view really does not ever get old).
I am really proud to call this neighborhood my home. I am really proud of how hard I fought for this life. I’m proud of how I’ve worked to earn my place in San Francisco and I’m proud to show off where I live to out of town visitors. A sandwich to go from Lucca Deli, a shopping trip at Heritage Row, a drink at Delarosa and a stroll down by the water with the best damn cream puff you’ll ever have (courtesy of Pacific Puffs) never ceases to impress my guests. “You’re so lucky to live here”, they say.
And I know they are completely right. It is indeed a fortunate life.
It’s not all collegiate Greek-like drama down here, I promise. There are some really genuine, generous and awesome folks living in this neck of the woods that can guarantee you a good time, a real friendship and maybe even an exciting romance. There are hard working, educated and motivated people residing in this corner of San Francisco. I choose to see my neighborhood through eyes of love and gratitude because perspective truly is the key to a happy life, regardless of where you live...
…Because eventually, Peter Pan does choose to grow up.
And I’m sure he and Wendy are living happily ever after…just up the hill in Pacific Heights.