June 17, 2011

Summer Session: San Francisco

My two options this summer were DC and SF. Then I realized that urban planning, while a legitimate stepping stone to UN-HABITAT, is boring. Even the word “design” does not save “urban design” from being monotonous and bureaucratic activity. International issues are my jam (mom says I need to focus,) so WorldCorps in SF it was. (Curious cats: this is the program supporting me.)

I needed to take a mental break from Duke. Experience what my life could be like when “it gets better.” Yes, I have the girlfriend in Carborro and Women Loving Women each month, but this summer I wanted to spend some time in the real world, navigating a notoriously queerfabulous and unpretentious city.

In my post on study abroad I said I wanted to spend significant time in one of the world's most tolerant cities before I took the plunge to Nepal or rural India. I have high expectations for how my sexuality (and curiosity about deviant sexual practices) should be satisfied.

I also wanted to have an idea of where I fit in and could spend the rest of my life. Then I could map latrines and water sources in Nepalese refugee camps without feeling like my life was all self-sacrifice and repression. As I hoped, I’m feeling that lightness of being that comes from watching the perfect porn clip or dancing to your song at a club. In the San Francisco tech/social business/start-up/non-profit/sustainability circle, I am normal. My parents unknowingly raised me to be a part of this culture, not the culture of Southeastern preps. While watching people at Powell Station, I feel more square than freak. A gracious Ivy League intern carrying a thick electric blue backpack.

Before you think that I came to SF just to get lezzed-up, get this: San Francisco is one of the densest and most walkable cities in the country, it's a mecca for sustainable business practices and foodies, it's adjacent to Silicon Valley and features a multicultural population and a Hispanic district. Also, the summers are cool. Most importantly, it's the first world-class city that didn't make me feel like a country bumpkin. I fit right in.

But living is San Francisco hasn't yet become the most glamorous thing ever. I'm a Dukie in a Duke-less city. I must meet people or face certain loneliness.

In my past incarnation I was aloof (and selfish, according to my dad.) I couldn’t look strangers in the eye without the assistance of my girlfriend. I now go to the same taqueria every day after work to order a horchata or try the honeydew aguafresca. I strike up a conversation with the cashier at the de Young about the necessity of a heavy duty lint roller when you own H&M trousers. Staying within the same couple blocks requires less energy and gives familiarity to my new life. I’m the girl up the street who comes in at 5. I’m the girl who loves New Orleans iced coffee. I’m a regular.

But when it comes to getting lezzed up, the corner co-op and Buena Vista Park won’t suffice. I’m three girls deep on OkCupid. (For those who can’t understand my lingo as I make it up: I’m carrying on conversations with three girls who indicated they want to meet me in person soon.) At the suggestion of a friend conveniently located in New York, I joined several Meetup Groups. I’ll pass on the next meet up at the bowling alley, because bowling with strangers sounds almost as fun as historic preservation. My best shot is with my OKC ladies.

My parents, ignorant of my internet-fueled dalliances, suggested I meet friends at work. My place of work, The Hub, is filled with young people. I don’t yet know what they do on their laptops in the Hub common area, but behind my glass office I see them and think potential friends. I have conferences on the future of capitalism and Monday Meditations to attend. An intern meetup is forthcoming. The mistress of the Hub, a tall African woman with a mini-fro, makes me swoon when she smiles. She wants to sit down sometime and talk about how I got involved with Worldcorps. (If a certain friend in the same situation asked for advice: I'd say, She knows everyone. It's her job. Chill out.)

Regardless of if she is or isn’t, I’m here to contribute to a community (contributions range from sexual favors to website consulting.) This Duke-less Dukie wants to be part of all these communities and more: the Hub, meetup groups, Haight-Ashbory. So if anyone still isn't sure: Yes, I’m happy here and I don’t want to leave.


  1. Good luck making friends Veronica. I have been in a new city for almost a year and have yet to meet many friends...despite making many efforts to do so.

  2. I love your writing. It is always so refreshing! Please keep us updated on your SF adventure!