Sex, love, and other mysteries in the city your mother warned you about.
I left my heart in San Francisco, and it's the weirdest thing. It keeps turning up in places I don't remember leaving it.
In 2007 I could have sworn it was gone for good. That's when — rookie mistake — I started to mix up the ideas of loving a San Franciscan and loving San Francisco. I might have left it at my ex's favorite burrito spot or go-to video store, I'm forgetting, but I went to both religiously then. When it was over, I'd still go back to check for it every once-in-a-while, until the video store closed and Gordo's burritos got even worse.
I barely heard a murmur for a while there, so I even considered posting to Craigslist. Missed connections? Personals? I didn't want to seem desperate, but I was close. This, I imagine, is what Tony Bennett channelled when he crooned "I left my heart in San Francisco," for the first time in 1962, earning him a Grammy and eventually local sainthood. "High on a hill, it calls to me," he sings, but since there are a bunch of hills here, part of me wants to tell Bennett to be a little more specific if he wants to find this thing. Maybe tag an address in this Craiglist ad of a song, you know?
But maybe Bennett isn't being clear for a reason — maybe he can't be. "My love waits there in San Francisco," he sings, making it seem like there's some actual person he loves in SF. But then he's like "When I come home to you, San Francisco / Your golden sun will shine for me." Now he's singing to the whole city — the fog, the light — all imbued with his love.
It's a well-known hazard with romanticized places (looking at you, Paris) that a person in love can get confused between the object and location of their affection. They're interrelated! But theres no love in the heart of the city — just people, and that's precisely it.
What I'm saying, bear with me here, is that if you love San Francisco, you're kind of polyamorous, as we all naturally are to some degree. Yes, you love SF in part because of the architecture and the hills, cable cars, and dope ramen shops. But that's just the backdrop. What, or whom, you've really fallen in love with is the people. Maybe you've done it in a serially monogamous way, or perhaps not quite, because nothing is ever neat and tidy. But, if you're doing it right, you'll leave your heart — at least in pieces — all over town.
As you might expect, I've misplaced my heart many times now, and have no real plans to stop. I left my heart on a stoop and spotted it, from a distance, at the beach. It turned up on a dating app (I swiped right but got totally ghosted). I even caught a glimmer of my heart in the rain last night. It took off, to where I'm not sure, but it's bound to find me somewhere soon.
Previously: Eff-ing In SF, Vol. 1: How To Use Tinder