Reunions with SF friends

It’s been challenging to meet up with some friends and former colleague friends during this visit. Given that most companies are still having the majority of their employees work from home given the ongoing pandemic and the increasing number of Delta variant cases, few people have any incentive to even come into the city. Many former colleagues who once lived in the city moved into outer suburbs of San Francisco during the pandemic for more space. And because of that, they have no reason to come here, particularly downtown/the financial district: it felt like such an eerie ghost town to be walking along Mission and Market this trip. I felt foreign, alone in a city that was once always full of people walking up and down its streets in the busiest business area.

The friends I have plans to meet with and have met with all still live in the city. This afternoon, I visited a former manager and now friend who lives in Potrero Hill. First, I was blown away by how huge and monstrous his condo was. Then, I was saddened to hear that after his dad had suffered from an opioid addiction and taken his own life during the peak of COVID last year, my friend didn’t take the proper time for himself to heal and mourn. Instead, like most Type A people who work in tech startups, he just threw himself deeper and deeper into work. Earlier this year, I think all the stress and sadness of losing his dad so suddenly and unexpectedly manifested into physical health problems: he started developing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and his lung capacity decreased to a point where he could barely jog even a quarter of a mile without feeling short of breath or like he was going to collapse. This is particularly distressing and alarming for someone who was used to running 5-6 miles three to four times a week at a 9-minute-per-mile pace. He went to get tested, and the doctors said they didn’t have any explanation other than his mental health stress translating into physical health problems. He’s now considering taking some extended leave to take care of himself and his mind and body, and to spend more time with his wife and two young girls.

We all take our mental and physical health for granted when we think everything is going well. And when it’s going “well,” we naively believe we will always have normalcy. But when we don’t take care of ourselves, our bodies give us rude, painful reminders that, hey, they need love and care, as well. We forget that mental and physical health are intertwined, which results in awful episodes like this occurring. I can only hope my friend will really be serious about taking time off sooner rather than later before he starts developing any further negative symptoms. Work will take every little thing they can get out of you. But none of that will matter once we’re dead.

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