Unfortunately, the very thing that’s making me want to take a break from San Francisco is also the thing that’s keeping me here. Because, thanks to the influx of tech companies and the resulting record-high rental market, I actually can’t move away from San Francisco unless I want to leave forever. Giving up my rent-controlled apartment would mean giving up the only thing that allows me to even be able to (barely) afford to live in San Francisco in 2015. That’s right: I can either leave San Francisco permanently. Or I can stay until I die. There isn’t an in between. At least not in this housing market.
Yes, I understand that there are worse places to be trapped. Being stuck in San Francisco is obviously an incredibly privileged problem to have. I get that. There is truly not a more magnificent city in the United States. But even a private jet starts to feel claustrophobic after being grounded for hours on the runway. It's almost a little eerie how prescient John Steinbeck was when he described this town as “a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.”
San Francisco is changing. And, while for some that’s a good thing, for many, it’s terrifying. For me, it's just starting to feel like we’re going in separate directions. That some space would do us good. That perhaps with time, this city I love will regain some its more attractive, bohemian qualities. That it will realize it’s meant to be a playground for all people, not just the rich ones. That balance and opportunity will be restored for all residents, not just a select few. That it’s worth slowing down and taking the time to question the changes and really examine if they’re good for everyone or just the elite ones.
Yeah, a little space would do us a world of good. But San Francisco isn’t in a position to give me that right now. Instead, it’s given me an ultimatum: stay together or break up for good. And, because I love San Francisco so much, because I can’t imagine leaving for good, we’ll stay together. For now anyway. But I’ll do so with my fingers crossed, hopeful that the tides will change, that the city I love will regain much of what makes it so special, and that when the rain finally returns, so will San Francisco’s soul.
If not, I’ll eventually move elsewhere. My heart will be broken to do so, but I’ll leave knowing that no matter where I am, when someone asks me where I’m from, I’ll say “San Francisco” with wonder, pride, and the hope that one day its Golden Gates will welcome me home again.
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Daisy Barringer is Thrillist's SF Editor and she cannot say enough how much she loves San Francisco. Even if she does need a teensy-tiny break. Follow her on Twitter @daisy.