My feelings about San Francisco have changed quite a bit since I first left home for college in August 2004. The first few winters and summers that I’d come home, it felt warm (not temperature-wise, obviously), welcoming, inviting. “Come home!” it beckoned. “You belong here!”
The city started to evolve quite a bit, though; the Mission gentrified and started inviting all these overpriced restaurants to open along Mission Street. The Coronet, our childhood movie theater, got completely torn down and replaced with a multi-million-dollar Institute on Aging center. The street lights along Geary Boulevard and 20th Avenue seemed so much dimmer than I’d remembered. It has paved the way for me to believe that San Francisco itself has gotten seedier in some areas and that the place I have long called home doesn’t always feel like “home” anymore. Walking its streets, I feel like a stranger in my own city.
And now with my brother gone, never to welcome me home in his arms again, the city seems even colder and harsher to me than ever before. It is even less welcoming, a far less happier place for me to return to. And when I leave it, I have mixed feelings. I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad, nostalgic or resentful. Even the Golden Gate Bridge itself for me is now a bit tainted, and I can’t look at it the same way now. This city without my brother means less to me than it ever has in my whole life. When I think of San Francisco now, I just feel hurt and pain.