on becoming a person in San Francisco
Reading this was like listening to classical music by a composer you’ve never heard before.
I really liked this piece!
> I brought a guy home to my bedframe-less room once, a 30-year-old who was a product manager… somewhere, and he said, “I want to rescue you.”
This is funny to me because I once brought a friend I knew from SF into my Alphabet City apartment, and immediately on entering she gasped "you poor thing!" I guess there's always room to get worse!
This 70 yr wornout woman enjoyed your writing. Keep wearing your heart on your sleeve even if life frays your spirit.
I also became a real adult in San Francisco during the same age as you. I used to live a block from Che Fico! I remember when they opened on divisadero.
but what I felt deeply true about growing up here, was when you said: “Back then, I thought life was an escalator that progressed upward at a set pace,” especially when I was 21 and working at a startup.
what I really wanted to do was write, but I thought I must submit to corporate life and find success. If I gave everything of myself to a company, then I’d move up the ladder like they say.
My boss, the founder of the startup, would do coke, play VR video games, and bring 19-year-old foreign girls into work, giving them beers...gosh maybe I should write about that time too....❤️🔥💀
> There’s a specific kind of grief to pledging your devotion to a mining town.
This is a wonderful line
Truly wow. You captured the aliveness, the core of sf
I'm comforted by how similar my SF experience was to yours, specifically the megablob friends phenomenon! I moved back to my hometown Atlanta, and it just felt so different like somehow SF was an alternative reality and ATL was the real thing. Is this how astronauts feel when they return to earth after a long time in space? Sometimes I wonder if my experience living and working SF even happened at all.
Spoke to my soul. Despite the opener of the desire to stay in privacy, this felt deeply open and intimate to me. It’s interesting how our current culture in tech permeates like a web into so many aspects of life. I am resonating with how being in this industry can swallow so much of early adulthood. And holding that paradox of letting it happen but also wanting to hold your own gravity. Observing how you change through it all. Or how you don’t. Beautifully written, thank you Ava. 🤍
Thanks for writing this. This culture seems very far away from me, so it's very interesting. I only had a vague idea of your age and then read: "I had felt like I was stuck in limbo, a kind of forcibly extended adolescence, but the year I was 22 everything started snapped into place really fast." My god, you were young!
I assumed all your worries about being a stable adult etc. were much later. I'm glad you found your place quickly after that.
I loved reading this. 💟
Curious if you’ve read Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener?
I lived in SF from 2002-2018. I remember trying to find a roommate via Craigslist in those early years. Each encounter with a potential roomie generated a great story for later. One memorable moment was walking in to the shared home while people we're getting tattoos. Real ones!
Wow, you are a great writer!
This reminded me of my 20s, when I learned an important life lesson about how relations work. Until then, I mostly had a large undifferentiated category of a "friend". Then I learned that some friendships only work in a shared context, and when that shared context is gone, the friendship is gone. Other friendships survive the change of context, and sometimes improve as they grow beyond the original context.
For example, I had a lot of fun with some of my classmates. But when we met a few years later, there was nothing to talk about. We had no hobbies or interests in common. I didn't notice it previously, because the school provided to us many things we could react to. It is similar with colleagues at work. You are a great team, then you change the job, then you meet them a few years later, and you have nothing to talk about. I suspect that many people in your group house were like that.
But sometimes, meeting a friend outside the usual setting is actually liberating; you can talk about anything, and you find out you have more in common than you thought originally. And your friendship remains even after the context where you have met is gone.
Both types of friendship are important in life, but if you only have the former, it is like a chain that binds you to your current context -- you know you will lose your friends when you grow up. With the latter type of friends, you are free to explore life, because they will still be there for you.
If may be difficult to find out the difference while you are still in the context. Some people don't move beyond the context, because they actually do not care about you other than instrumentally (as a "person to do X with"). Other people just do not want to impose themselves, or do not realize you might be interested.