I have a confession to make: I just moved across the country for love.
I don't like to think of myself as the kind of person who just drops everything to pursue a relationship, but this was a special case. I've been in love with San Francisco for my entire life.
In March of 1985, I breathed my first breath at what was then the San Francisco Children's Hospital in Laurel Heights. A few days later, my parents took me home to their little starter apartment on Pfeiffer Street, an alley tucked away at the base of Telegraph Hill. My dad worked as a banker, his office near the top of the Transamerica Pyramid. My mother had taken time off from a job at Haight Ashbury Psychological Services to focus on the new baby. We had the makings of the perfect San Francisco family.
Nine months later, I was on a plane headed east. I wouldn't return to my birthplace for 18 years.
Growing up, San Francisco was a mystical fairyland, a paradise of sorts, another life I could only conjure through my parents' wistful reflections of the best city they'd ever known. Both originally from East Coast families, they'd relocated us to Connecticut to raise my brother and me closer to our grandparents. "One day when you're older, I'll show you where you were born," my mom always said. The summer after I started college, she made good on her promise.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I first felt that surge of energy one feels only when they're completely connected to their surroundings. Was it wheeling our suitcases through the Stockton Tunnel at dusk after dinner at the Washington Square Bar & Grill? Staring up into the windows of 167 Pfeiffer Street before ascending the spiraled Filbert Steps? Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Beach, the most awe-inspiring sight my teenage self had ever encountered?
Being in SF just felt right. By the end of our visit, I knew I'd find my way back for good.
And I did return, right after college, landing in the intern room at San Francisco magazine (where I first met the magnificent Robin Wilkey, HuffPost SF's Associate Editor). I hardly knew anyone in California; most of my friends were settling in New York or Chicago. But as soon as my airport taxi curved up the 101 and the San Francisco skyline embraced me, all hills and green and water and dotted with those little pink houses that make you feel like you're on some European Riviera, I felt that familiar rush of energy and knew I'd come home.
Since then, San Francisco has seen me through my brightest moments and most challenging times, through breakups and job searches and epic parties in my Duboce Triangle kitchen and utter loneliness. As my life has taken its typical twentysomething twists and turns, my city has remained its one constant, loyal force. Nothing reverses a foul mood or reinforces how lucky one feels to be alive than those last few steps to the top of Buena Vista Park or Twin Peaks or Tank Hill or Coit Tower. Catching my breath and drinking in the view below, I feel like anything is possible. For me, San Francisco is magic.
Which is why, during my interview with HuffPost's former managing editor last November for a job on the editorial staff, I politely asked if I could do the gig remotely from SF. He said absolutely not and moved onto the next question: Where did I see myself in five years?
"That's easy," I replied. "Editor of Huffington Post San Francisco!"
Said managing editor then explained that he wasn't sure if I was aware, but HuffPost unfortunately didn't have a San Francisco section.
"Then we should make one," I argued, launching into an impromptu monologue about what an informed, tech-savvy population we San Franciscans are, what a progressive little land we live in, full of politically-aware, curious, artistic, in-the-know residents. The Huffington Post would surely thrive here, I insisted.
My interviewer changed the subject, and miraculously, I still landed the job -- at headquarters, in New York. I was heartbroken to leave San Francisco, but things happen quickly here at HuffPost, and my five-year plan soon became a six-month one.
Last weekend, I left behind a sunny, 80-degree Manhattan summer day and descended upon a windy, drizzly city swathed in gray. Zipping up my winter coat in the cab from SFO, I again felt flooded with energy. Home at last!
San Francisco is full of characters, myriad folks from every facet of life. The guy who plays Edelweiss on his saxophone at dusk every day where Market Street meets the Embarcadero. The struggling photographers shacking up in their windowless Potrero Hill lofts. The heiress in her castle atop Divisadero. The drum circle on Hippie Hill. The Caffe Trieste barista who sings at the Elbo Room by night. The taxi driver who immigrated from Detroit 40 years ago and has been driving his car up and down the hills ever since. The tech pioneer heading to his SOMA social media startup. Stop any of these individuals on the street, and they're bound to have one thing in common: They all adore their city as much as I do.
HuffPost SF will be the digital glue that connects this wide spectrum of San Franciscans, a daily stop for anyone who cares about their town enough to want to know what's going on. We'll cover everything from politics to parties, restaurants to real estate, initiatives to issues. Our all-star array of bloggers -- chefs and city supervisors and business owners and artists -- will bring the voices of the city to life. Partners like Patch and CitysBest will fill in the blanks, whether examining hyperlocal trends in the Castro Valley or rounding up the best spots for a midnight picnic.
Meanwhile, I encourage you, our reader, to pause and cherish those private moments of giddiness, those jolts of energy you'll feel simply by existing in the city you love.
For me, they'll come when I least expect it: dragging a living room couch into Dolores Park to watch The Big Lebowski on the big screen during one of those unexpected 75-degree November nights. Ordering Fernet-with-a-ginger-back from the Page without getting a funny look from the bartender. Sitting on my favorite perch atop Macondary Lane (the original Tales of the City inspiration) as afternoon turns to twilight over the bay. Wearing pajama pants to Delirium's Saturday night 80s dance party. Finally making it all the way up California Street on my bike.
Yeah, it's good to be home.
Follow Carly Schwartz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/carlicita