Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Things we learnt in San Francisco

1. It doesn't matter how many amazing songs there are about California, you will still have The OC theme tune in your head the entire time you're there.

2. If you were an angsty fucked up kid, and have recently been thinking about how you were an angsty fucked up kid, you do not want to watch The Perks of Being A Wallflower in public. Unless you really feel like sobbing uncontrollably in front of 298 other people plus cabin crew.

3. San Francisco really is as groovy as my inner 13-year-old had hoped, part one: Our bed was designed for a threesome.

4. San Francisco really is as groovy as my inner 13-year-old had hoped, part two: Everything is solar-powered. Everything is vegetarian. Everything is wheelchair-accessible. (It's still entirely made of hills, obviously, but damn do they make an effort - as opposed to mostly-flat London, which has about four wheelchair-accessible tube stations.)

The vegetarian thing sounds like such a minor issue, but it's amazing how much more welcome you feel when you have half the menu to choose from rather than 'omelette and chips' or 'chips'. It's analogous to other inclusivity issues: while I wouldn't claim it as an identity (it is a choice, on some level, at one time, as opposed to gender/race/sexuality/etc, which you're pretty much stuck with; not that I would suck it up and go for a bacon butty if there were no other sandwiches available but you know what I'm getting at), but the feeling of being shoved slightly to the side of the mainstream is similar. Like seeing shelves full of Great White Dudes writing about Great White Dude issues at the front of the shop, while Michelle Tea is tucked away in the Women's Section. So when you go to a lady-centric bookshop, and they have an entire Michelle Tea display, and it feels like such a relief: you don't have to work so hard, make such an effort, because what you need is right there.

That was one of the most amazing things about going to the NNAF conference last year: while most of the time you have this constant apprehension whenever the subject of your volunteering comes up, tensing yourself for backlash or glossing over exactly what it is you do unless you're sure of supportive company - you get to sit in a room full of women shouting "WE FUND ABORTION! LET'S FUND MORE ABORTIONS!". People will laugh at your misoprostol jokes and give you a free badge which says "virginity pledges break more often than condoms". Instead of wasting your energy insisting on the importance of what you do, or defending the morality of it, you can get on with supporting each other to do it better.

Speaking to friends, it seems it's a similar feeling to being in a queer-friendly space when you're used to attracting unwanted attention just for holding your girlfriend's hand, or finally being able to speak your own language after being abroad for so long you even dream in a foreign tongue.

It's one of those things that you don't even notice until the restraints are lifted: you get used to having to tailor yourself and your needs and your opinions to the expectations and demands of others, because that's what not being a hermit is about. But you forget that there are places where you can loudly celebrate the awesomeness of abortion funding - or buy every single book Michelle Tea has ever written - or have six different veggie options for breakfast even if you don't like tomatoes - until you get there. You relax a muscle you'd forgotten you'd even tensed.

5. It sure was impressive how Lincoln managed to Free The Slaves single-handedly, with no help from a single lady or black person! Oh hai.

6. Nowhere in the entire world is more beautiful than Yosemite.


  1. I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. All of this is truth. Also, Yosemite is basically heaven.

    1. I'm jealous. Not sure how to tell London I'm in love with someone else...

    2. The problem with being from there is having to leave. Also, I've been lurking your blog for ages and I super-love it. You rock! :D

    3. Thank you thank you thank you, that's so kind! xx