Fleeing the Urban Center

Every morning, I wake up and check Craigslist.
I check it again at work when I am eating lunch.
I check it again when I get home.
I check it again and again throughout the night.
I check it again before I go to sleep.

How did people find apartments before the Internet? Over a less elongated timeframe, you might suggest. With less obsessiveness, you might recommend. Indeed, when we looked in San Francisco initially a year ago we only had three days here to find an apartment before we had to fly back to Chicago . . . but then, that didn’t turn out so hot, did it?

We have been hunting for the last month, but as this part of the country is in high demand and the turn around is pretty fast, very few places have been offering themselves for the beginning of June, which is when we want to move because our current lease will finally expire June 15. We had a number of neighborhoods in San Francisco on our radar, but the last few weeks have solidified Berkeley in our minds. I’ve talked to some theater folks who live over there and commute into the city to work, and I attended two stage readings  (part of the Playwrights Foundation’s ROUGH reading series) held in donated space across the bay, and then I went to Berkeley Rep’s opening of Lieutenant of Inishmore (which I liked a lot less, as a play AND as a production, than I was thinking I would . . . it’s just a bit pointless, no? Not nearly as interesting as In Bruges).

The idea of being conveniently near Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theater (Whose space I really really like! Must get over there for Mark Jackson’s Miss Julie!), and Ashby Stage is really exciting to me. The idea of being conveniently near much of what Berkeley has to offer is really exciting, as is the prospect of living around trees and gardens rather than cement and trash. San Francisco has charm, but I’m not sure it has beauty. Some pockets arguably do (those pockets being mostly designated parks), but generally speaking, beauty is not the word for San Francisco.

But what about The Magic, and ZSpace, and Exit Theater. What about my own A.C.T.? Not to mention the Ballet, Symphony, and Opera. Am I not somehow betraying them by moving a bridge or a 30-minute BART ride away? Possibly. Part of me thinks so. Part of me also feels like I have somehow failed for not sticking it out as a young urbanite for longer. New York would eat me alive. But if the shows are good enough, 12 miles should not discourage me from attending, should it? And another part of me accepts that we are in a recession and I have a wedding to save for and the ridiculously high rents San Francisco demands are honestly not worth it. Cleaner, larger, cheaper apartments are just a few miles to the east, where the grass is definitely greener because they actually have grass.

Things I will miss about living in San Francisco:

Being able to bike to work.
Being able to bike everywhere safely if not always easily (damn you, hills).
Rite Spot Cafe: freak’n great bar!
House of Bagels: boiled as they should be.

Wow. This is a much shorter list than I expected. Good thing we’re moving!


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