Love Letter to San Francisco

A Departure

My girlfriend is a saint. She packed my bags for me and woke me up somewhere around 5am the morning of my flight. It was a bittersweet departure, I knew that James & Eva would be getting married on that day. I wanted to be there. This was important. I didn't ask - but I would expect them to prefer I take this opportunity.

I have been terrified of airports as long as I've been a conscious adult. It's a feature of my paranoia, I guess. I always assumed that I would enter an airport, burst into flames, and melt like a witch. I've heard trans horror stories, and I believed for some reason I would be detained and interrogated. It was an absurd delusion.

My girlfriend popped an Adderall and a Buspirone in my mouth, and I braved the airport alone. Shockingly, I found it to be an incredibly casual experience.

h :: a -> c = (g :: b -> c) . (f :: a -> b)

I got on the plane, in a window seat next to an older native couple. I put on my headphones, loaded up all the screamo I had downloaded, and turned up the volume waiting to take off. I had intended to read my copy of Discipline & Punish on the plane, but I felt the engines ramp up, and we started moving, and I could not help but cry. I was suddenly absolutely overwhelmed, in the most unexpected way. I watched the plane lift off the ground, and felt a sense of magnificent human achievement. I found such beauty in flight. I could only compare it to my psychedelic experiences. In the silliest way, it felt like looking at the stars on acid. "This is beautiful, this is incomprehensible, I am so privileged to be able to just observe". I felt no fear at any point. I have a feeling that few things will grant me the same sensation throughout my life. From the beginning, this was an important experience.

The plane landed in Denver. The woman next to me looked at me, offered me a wad of cash, and told me to go eat and pray. She told me God would guide me, and that I should rely on him. I don't think so.

At this point, I felt fear. My ticket did not tell me what gate my next flight would be at, and when I did find where I needed to be, it was far and with little time to get there. I sprinted to the gate, with just enough time to get a drink and piss, and boarded my next flight shortly after.

This flight was less eventful. I watched through the window from my aisle seat, and felt a similar sensation of beauty as the terrain shifted in front of me. I had never seen or even imagined anything with such majesty as the geological features of the western US. When I got off the plane, I got my checked bag, stripped down as much as I could, got a Starbucks and headed for the BART.


I was immediately confused, I have never been any good at navigation, but a man directed me to the platform and I managed to get there fine. I found the first woman who could have been my mother and roped her into assisting me. She asked me where I was from, and gently let me know that she had picked up on me being trans. She was good about it. She knew what to make of me. She knew how to talk to me. I actually appreciated it. Her stop was after mine.

She told me about her children, how she had been coming to San Francisco her entire life, and how she made sure to do the same for her kids. I told her about my work and my life. We had a lot of time to talk, and I honestly felt bonded with her quite quickly. When I got off at 16th & Mission I told her I would blog about her here, and I hope that she reads this. She wanted to hug me. I regret jumping off the car before she could. I gave her my business card. If you're reading this, feel free to contact me. I have no elders in my life. I liked you a lot.

I stepped out of the station and on to Mission Street, I was instantly in love. I wandered around for a short time, probably with the widest eyes I've ever had. It was really something for me to take in. I kept thinking to myself that my friend had stepped where I was stepping now, seen the same signs and shops, breathed the same air. I felt connected to someone I've wanted to share meat-space with for some time.

13 Bats

I had two immediate goals after getting off the BART. In order of priority, find a fucking vape, and go get a piercing. I wanted something to remember the trip by. I found myself a vape, which I now know was sold to me illegally, and stumbled my way (buzzed out of my mind) directly to Mission Ink hoping they could take a walk-in. I had a short but sweet conversation with the lady at the front desk. She directed me to 13 Bats, which was a short walk away.

I entered, filled out the intake form, and was surprised when it asked for my chosen name and pronouns. When I remarked, the staff told me "Welcome to San Francisco". I knew by then I never wanted to leave. The woman who gave me my piercing gave me water and made small talk. It was very pleasant. She reminded me a lot of my girlfriend. She had the same taxidermy collection thing going on, and killer goth mommy aesthetics. I told her about this blog as well, and that I would probably remember her forever. In retrospect that probably felt strange, but this was a huge experience for me, and she gave me a body modification, so it doesn't feel too unhinged. Anyway, hi!

Now that I had gotten the really important stuff out of the way, I had some plans.

Trans Meetup Time

I met up with a friend I had originally met on a trans Discord server I moderated a year prior. We hadn't talked in a long time, and I didn't really get along with her back then. I now know this was jealousy, or envy, I'm not sure. I wanted to be living her life so badly. I knew I could in the right circumstances, and I knew that I wasn't.

Either way, I decided to meet up with her for drinks at a little place called ABV. I got a cocktail which was just kind of alright, we got a snack, and we talked for maybe an hour or so. It was a really good time for me. She wouldn't let me pay. I look forward to seeing her again. I've been talking to her since.

She walked me to my next destination, Gracias Madre, for dinner with my coworkers. I introduced them all to her when they arrived, and I remarked about the trans programmer phenomena. She disappeared quickly, and we went inside.

Workplace Reintroduction

I felt a little bit of regret for stripping down as much as I had, I wasn't sure exactly how professional I needed to be with them. Before I knew it, we all had drinks and I was talking about my Adderall prescription, so it's safe to say I got comfortable fast. I was surprised how some of my coworkers differed in appearance from my expectation. I always imagined my senior as some sort of 7ft lumberjack, but he's actually a short king, with unexpected tattoos and piercings. They were all nice to me about my food problems, and very pleasant to be around.

We finished up dinner and headed out. On the walk I spoke to the only other woman about hormones and my transition, as I always do. Sometimes I'm eager to do this, sometimes I feel sick of it. I guess it was just easy for me to talk about. It felt like a good way to initiate a dialogue.

We scooped up the last person, went shopping, and my project manager shared a personal fact with me, which I appreciated very much. I had wanted to talk to him for some time. I found him less transparent and approachable than the rest of the team, but not intimidating at all, and definitely not "guarded", I guess. Just cautious I think. Maybe he is just not interested in trauma-bonding with someone 10 years his junior. I can't blame him.

We made our way to the hostel where we stayed. I froze my ass off. I thought everyone was headed to bed, so my roommate and I went to take care of our hygiene and get in bed. Unfortunately, I missed out on a couple hours of social time in the other building. I made up for it later.

Our Professional Activities

We had a number of "work" tasks to accomplish, many presentations about our team, finances, technologies, our projects, some collaborative stuff, and etc. I had a lot of fun. I would have participated in all of those conversations for free. I gave a short demonstration of my project, which I felt I bombed, but it was a learning experience. Others said I didn't do bad. I don't believe them. If I am going to fail, and learn, I want to do it in front of these people. They are all wonderful.

I got to meet the man who owns the company. He greeted me with a hug, and I had never spoken to him before. He asked me how I was, and he was taken aback when I said that I was having the most important experience of my life. I didn't realize it until I got there, but I have spent the last 10 years losing my sanity inside a single room in an oppressive household. I was radiating joy. I expressed my bewilderment at anyone who would listen. I have never been so happy.

I definitely felt like the junior in the room. But I fit in, certainly. These are my people. I will do well with them. Their collective intelligence, skill, and motivation is astounding. Having the opportunity to spend the next years of my life working with these people is one of the greatest privileges of my lifetime. Coming to this company is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Getting Recreational in California

I never stopped at a dispensary. Missed opportunity. We had plenty of fun without it. I drank, responsibly, with my coworkers each night. Our senior flexed his (basically) 100% Emacs GUIX laptop setup, and (unexpectedly) his dancing skills. I spoke a lot to our IT guy and another dev, who is on my team, that I do not work with directly. I was told how lucky I was to be there, and I could not have agreed more, for more reasons than anyone knew.

I participated in a number of conversations that gave me an insane sense of belonging. Our senior gave a multiple hour lecture on software licensing. We talked about Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds, Lisp, Clojure, and other programming languages. Lots of things that I want to talk about at this level, that I am generally never able to. It felt special to share such interest and depth with so many others.

On the second night, we were joined by another one of the administrative/business types who I had been eager to spend time with, another woman. Our first interactions online made me feel like she had special care for me, I'm assuming it's her job to make every employee feel special, but I have a long history of triggering a maternal instinct in women older than me. We ran to the store together and talked about my relationship with Judaism. She told me she had seen one of my favorite bands live many times. She suggested some music to me. I shared this blog with her.

Later that night, she came into the building the women were staying in and we had a short conversation. I don't really remember it too well, but I know I shared my feelings with her. I know it was good. I was happy to be able to spend time with her. I had been looking forward to meeting her more than the rest of the team, and I was quite excited for everyone else. Six hours later we were eating breakfast and I was hungover. Somehow, she was unfazed. Titanium woman.

The following day we went on a hike, and it was the most beautiful location I had ever seen. The place we were staying was awesome, with a gorgeous view of mountains and the ocean from the top of the cliff the buildings were on. This place was magnitudes above. I got possibly the best pictures of me to ever exist on this hike. Things had begun worming their way into my brain unexpectedly.

On our last full day, we all went out to dinner at a very nice distillery. I had my first taste of beef in a while. I wore my favorite dress, new boots, and some tights. I felt cute. My senior complimented my dress. It felt good. My drink was delicious, and the conversations were wonderful.

The whole time, from the first moment we met up for dinner, everyone was incredibly casual. Very easy to talk to. Pleasant and gentle in every way. I appreciated them all an incredible amount.

I can confidently say I used the phrase "my parents" far too many times on this trip. All I have to talk about is my hardship at home, and my parents' godawful opinions. Next year I will have happy things to relate to everyone else.

The Trip Back to Where I Live

I got up in the morning, hugged everyone I could, and headed to the airport with a subset of the group. I was so sad. Notice this section is not titled "The Trip Home". I knew as soon as I left the airport after landing that I never wanted to leave. I knew where my home was, and it was not the south. My feelings started building. Everyone split up once we got to the terminal, and I went to get myself breakfast, which was stupidly expensive. I got misgendered for the first time since landing by the girl who gave me my food. I ate and waited for my flight.

Once I was seated, I begrudgingly prepared for takeoff. As soon as I felt the lift I started crying. Softly at first, and then a heart-wrenching sob. I tried to be as quiet as I could. I thought that I would calm down once I couldn't see Oakland anymore. I peered out over the city longingly, and when the view of the city was replaced with wilderness, I cried harder. This time last year, I had little regard for human existence or the well being of this planet. I figured humanity would go extinct eventually, after the earth had become inhospitable, and that this was both inevitable and emotionally acceptable. I was so destroyed, deranged, and mentally distorted.

I saw the mountains, with small patches of ice just barely dusting the very peaks. The valleys in-between. Vibrantly colored ponds full of metal salts and no doubt ancient extremophile life. Swaths of beautiful trees, and barren landscapes made just of ground-level brush and earth. I have never been so emotionally distraught. I thought the highlight was my time in the city. It was fantastic - and I plan on moving as soon as this lease is up, but the nature is what touched me. There is so much beauty there that I had no knowledge or appreciation of before. We have forests and mountains on the east coast, and I should appreciate them as well, but they are nowhere near as special. Nowhere near as threatened. When I realized my work was in service of this landscape, I broke. Eventually, the clouds crept between us, and I lost sight of everything I had to miss.

I started to calm down after we had been in the air for more than an hour, and at that point I began working on the first draft of this document. I continued to cry on-and-off throughout the duration of my flight. I had to take my snot-soaked hoodie off when I landed. I normally do not cry very much, or very often. I tend to have large emotional outbursts every 3-4 months or so, when the weight of something becomes too much to bear. My parents, my old workplace, primal fear, etc.

I have never cried out of longing for something beyond myself. I felt such joy and privilege in this experience, my work, and my relationship to my coworkers. It was the saddest-happiest cry of my life. I knew I would be separated from that great state and all its beautiful cities and landscapes for months. I refuse to be stuck in this unloving, degenerate society any longer. I have no value where I live. No real, meaningful, familial relationships to speak of. Nobody understands my work. There is no culture that I value. The state government considers me less-than-human, as do many of the people. I am afraid every day. I can't piss in a public restroom. My mother tells me that she and my father worry about me getting hatecrimed every day, and they should. It is their brainworms, their voting strategies, their transition denial, and their tolerance of intolerance that have put me in danger. I have withered in this destitute, dark place my entire life. I refuse to sit here and suffer. I refuse to decay like the rest of them.

I have seen the strength of the pacific. I have seen the magnificence of the mountains, and the beautiful, grimy, warped favela that is San Francisco. The chaos on the streets. The culture that lives and breathes. I will live every day until I return knowing that it is there waiting for me. I will never be the same.


My girlfriend's parents picked me up at the airport when I landed. I was thankful for this gesture, but they were immediately dismissive of everything I felt. I tried to share my emotions, and they were completely unenthused. Her father misgendered me almost immediately. He did not understand what I meant when I said I wasn't afraid there. He never will.

I told them about my intent to move, they argued with me about how expensive it would be. I thought to myself that I earned more money in my first year of work than they will in this year combined, which is unhealthy and classist of me. It's not a valid argument for them to make though. They were so concerned about their daughter, who is equally lost and miserable here. This is no place for young lesbians to waste their lives. They had no understanding of how powerful it was, for the first time in my life, to not be a spectacle. I have always been a freakshow. Too invested in those damn computers. Too gay. Too effeminate. Too Jewish. Too neurodivergent. It is no shock I felt so divorced from humanity. The people here have only ever done me wrong. I used to answer to slurs.

I texted my father. He warned me about "The shithole that is the Mission", and I told him how much I loved it there. He made fun of me for crying. He said to grow up and get a grip on my emotions. From here on out, I refuse to let these clueless boomers continue to insult and belittle me. I have accomplished more at my age than they could have ever aspired to in their lives, with considerably less to start with. I want them to know that.

On this trip, I realized a number of things. I realized that I am a capable and strong adult, with an extremely valuable skillset and a more-than-fair chunk of money for an uneducated, queer, neurodivergent youth in the south. I have agency and the authority to determine the trajectory of my own life. I fit in with my coworkers, I got hired for a reason, and I do not need to be afraid. I am not an impostor. I realized truly, fully, maybe for the first time, that I am in fact a woman, and now even others see me as such with no prompting. I came back with so many things unblocked in my head. I've been wearing makeup, for the first time in my life.

I stopped by my girlfriend's workplace to hug her and get the keys to the apartment. I bought her mother a gift as a thank you for the drive.

Settling In

I got back and called my friend. I told her about my whole experience, and I started sobbing again for just a moment. At this point, I was not just celebrating my discovery, but mourning the time I had spent in the dark. She moved to the bay alone at 17. I am five years behind. So much wasted youth. I should not compare myself. The only thing I can do is fix it now that I can, while I still can.

She related her experiences traveling for the first time to mine, and we talked about her time in the bay. I shared my pictures and stories of the beautiful eccentricities of my coworkers. It reminded me of the kinds of people we made friends with on the internet as kids.

My girlfriend got home from work, and I relayed all of the same information to her. I think the only thing that could have made this trip better is if I was able to bring her with me. I am planning to return with her later this year, before the lease is up, so she does not have to move blindly. I am so excited for her to see what I saw.

Closing Notes

I will never be the same. I will never be able to remain here knowing that a whole world, a real society of people with actual culture that is not built on a foundation of hate, is out there waiting for me.

To San Francisco, I love you. I know you are not perfect. I saw the homelessness, I saw the BART (lol), I saw the rent prices, and I'm aware that I am likely part of the problem. I will live every day until I return thinking about you. We will spend the next years together. I imagine, the best years I will have in my whole life.