1. Love at first sight isn’t real. That’s true with humans, parakeets, human-parakeet relations, and cities. You think you know a city but then it starts raining and housing is hard to find and strangers talk to you while you’re in line for the bus. Give yourself space to find the reasons you love the city for yourself. Or go back home to Oklahoma.
2. The city will be just like you thought it would: hilly, tree-ridden, and expensive. Rejoice in the fact you knew what you were doing when you came here. Make sure your confidence level is as high as possible.
3. The city will be nothing like you thought it would be: you had no idea what you were getting into, people take themselves too seriously or not seriously enough, and it turns out that dreams don’t come true automatically with geographical relocation. Beginning with a surfeit of confidence, however, was the best way to beat your bird-brained assumptions out of you.
4. You can make it work. Believe this despite the fact that no one will blame you if you fail or decide to move away or change course. Maybe that’s what you should do anyways–you shouldn’t rule it out at least. It’s hard out here, but people make it work every day. You can too.
5. Attitude changes everything. Either you’re stuck in a job you don’t like or you’re getting the skills you need to move on to something better. Either you’re stuck with a cat at home or you’re learning how to love felines in order to relate to your cat-loving boyfriend. There’s always a lining to the cloud, but you choose what it’s made out of.
6. Everything your parents and your pre-calc teacher told you was right. You need skills. You need to be able to offer something valuable to someone. You need an income and somewhere to live after your friends get tired of you squatting in or around their apartments.
7. Everything your parents and your pre-calc teacher told you was wrong. I’m still trying to figure this one out, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.
8. Be prepared to talk to people either about their dogs or about food. It’s the surest way to the San Francisco resident’s heart. Be sure to call it “Frisco.” Locals love that, almost as much as they love instant coffee. (The last two sentences were jokes.)
9. Learn the secrets of the city, the way things look at night or from the tops of hills, the vistas you earn through inner thigh sweat, the places that everyone says are good but actually aren’t (I’m looking at you Bi-rite ice cream). In this way, you can make the city your own.
10. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, even if that means using a flip phone and eating McDonald’s soft serve ice cream occasionally. Singularity (both kinds) is what San Francisco’s supposed to be about, I think, so don’t go changing to try to please it.
11. Remember it’s all going to burn anyways.
What are your secrets to loving your city?
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