Why SF's Cold Weather Makes My Heart Sing
Why San Francisco’s Cold Weather Makes My Heart Sing -
A Metaphor of Contentedness for the Second Half of My Life
This story has to do with who I am, a fully realized (?) 45 year old woman, who has the freedom to make a 180 degree change in her life to move back to an area because it is more harmonious with who I am, what inspires me, how I function and what feeds me as an artist. The reason I am at this point will enthrall very few readers, but one of the biggest reasons I love San Francisco is because it is cold. Almost all seasons except snowy winters happen in increments of 3 hours – cold with fog, cold, warmer without fog but with clouds, warmest with sun and then backwards again, but all with a humidity of 60% or under and a general feeling of crispness. It should be said that there are variations to this weather pattern within SF neighborhoods, but for the purposes of this essay, this explanation is appropriate.
I lived in San Francisco for 4 years after college; this enough to take it all in, but I had not lived my life enough to know what San Francisco would later mean to me. It was not until the last two summers vacationing in SF, intentionally leaving the hot and humid East Coast summer behind, that I knew I was onto something big. Stepping out from the SF airport and standing in 75 degree sun and 21% humidity, I felt the crispness and physical relief after having to battle the heat and humidity of PA summers, and I felt a bigger relief: I felt home. Over the course of the last 25 years I have been writing lists, inner comparisons, observations and personal truths about large NYC and the small PA town I live in, and these two SF vacations helped me bridge the embrace between my heart and the city of San Francisco. All this information came flooding into my awareness as I eased into the SF crisp weather.
I adore the San Francisco Bay Area because it is an almost completely visual experience. It seems that so many more art murals have popped up throughout the city in the last 25 years. It is a designer’s paradise. Walking through the streets is almost a visual overload, and I have an impossible time not photographing everything that inspires me visually. My last class was Color Theory and one of the definitions of happiness had to do with being visually pleased. The readings explained that if one is visually happy, one is also inwardly content and happy. This definition resonated in me so deeply that I had to use it as a reason I want to make this bold relocation: to allow it to affirm what I already experienced intuitively.
Living in Manhattan was an urban wonder, but probably mostly on a mental level. I was living a myth believed by true New Yorkers that there is no other place on earth to bother living in other than Manhattan. However, I was always aware of the intensity of the noise, honking, trash, rats, taste and feel of dirt and grit, lack of physical space, and the dense population all living together on a tiny geographical space. I could take that same New Yorker attitude and apply it to the Bay Area – why would you want to live anywhere else? By comparison to Manhattan, the Bay Area is spacious, light and colorful, with vertical structures shorter than in Manhattan because of SF earthquake safety laws. The visual effect of this is that you have magnificent views everywhere – especially at night - unobstructed by massive vertical buildings.
In SF there is a value to incorporate nature, gardening, flowers and trees with the city and living spaces. I found a fascinating example of this at the SF airport. Though it is a sprawling cement structure, there is a massive circular opening in the center where huge green fir trees are planted. I immediately thought this is an example of the kind of intentionality that city planners bring to the Bay Area to balance between nature and an urbane structure. This was my last impression as I flew back to the East Coast, to live out my remaining months there.
Although I do not know what my future will bring, I can only conclude with the idea that it is of the utmost importance to arrange one’s life in the direction of inner inspiration. For me, I know that San Francisco can give me a base of visual, auditory, and sensory inspiration and pleasure. I will let the rest unfold organically.