What is living in San Francisco like?

I’m fortunate to live within bicycling distance of work. Google says it’s about 2.2 miles door to door. There are dedicated bike lanes almost the whole way, and the route is mostly flat. San Francisco has a temperate climate year-round, bordering on cool, and we’ve had a series of dry winters, so I’m able to bike almost every day. When it rains, I prefer to take an umbrella and BART.

I get to work around 9, sometimes a little before, sometimes a little after. I work in a unusually bright and well-lit space for an engineering team. Actually engineering, design/product, and growth/marketing all sit together, currently 11 people. It’s a good group, and I genuinely like everyone I work with. A catered lunch arrives every day around noon. I used to look down on perks like these—as infringing upon my food-finding and choosing autonomy—but now I value it, because it brings everyone across the whole company together and away from their screens once a day. We use that time to eat, talk, play games, and share silly videos. And then it’s back to work until 5 or 6.

On my bike ride home, I start thinking about what I want to cook for dinner, usually an improvised combination of vegetables and protein. Most of our produce comes from a delivered box of seasonal vegetables and fruits from the Farm Fresh to You CSA that I’ve been a member of since 2008. It’s one of my favorite things. We get most of our weekly staples from Trader Joe’s, but for special day-of purchases, a nice cut of meat or heirloom tomatoes for instance, we’ll walk to Bi-Rite or Whole Foods.

Last night we made a salad with pomegranate, persimmons, and lettuce from our veggie box, and pecan pieces and feta cheese from Trader Joe’s. Stephanie made the dressing with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard—all also from Trader Joe’s. Lately I’ve really been digging their broccoli slaw, which I mix with a dressing adapted from a “fish sauce dip” recipe I got from a cooking class in Vietnam:

Served cold, it’s really nice paired with pretty much any meat, especially Bi-Rite’s “bánh mì” sausages.

If I come home later for some reason or we’re both exhausted or we’ve run out of food to cook that looks interesting, we’ll go out for dinner. Probably once a week or less. Someplace local and not too fancy. We never order takeout or delivery, there are just too many good options within a short walk. Even if we’re tired, it feels mentally-cleansing to force ourselves to leave the house and move our bodies in search of food.

At night Stephanie has homework and I often have a personal project I’m working on. Occasionally we’ll watch an episode of one of Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows or a movie on Netflix or Google Play. We still don’t own a TV, but we watch more than we used to—on Stephanie’s MacBook Air, propped up on a box in bed or on our coffee table. If I’m on the computer at night, I try to shut it off by 10 or 11 and read, but I go through feasts and famines when it comes to books. Right now I’m in a bit of a famine. I blame Thoreau’s Walden.

The weekends are the time we leave for a combination of cleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry. Whenever possible, we try to do something that gets us out of the house, if not the city. We like to go outdoors and go hiking. We don’t own a car, so that usually means reserving a Zipcar. In an hour or less we can be very much out of the city and in nature. More than that and it can feel like we’re almost in the middle of nowhere. This is probably the primary reason we live here, and why it’s so hard to imagine living anywhere else. We have amazing access to the outdoors, while also having all the benefits of life in a world-class city.

1 Comment

Mom

Glad you have found a spot in the world that meets all your varied interests. It is not always an easy thing to find.

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