When I was 11, my sister and I made the decision to stay with our Dad in California instead of with our Mom in Western Australia. It was a very hard decision. One I wish I didn’t want to have to make, but ultimately I am happy with the decision I made. I got to spend the last 4 years of my father’s life with him, getting to know him, being with him, and building the memories that have kept me going since losing him.
Living with my Dad meant getting to live in one of the greatest cities around, San Francisco. My sister and I had been quite sheltered the 4 years we lived in Australia. There was so much of pop culture to catch up on and to do that we watched a lot MTV, HBO, and read every magazine we could get our little hands on. But that only gets you so far. We had a whole new environment to explore. When we lived in Australia, we lived in the ‘burbs, so living in a city was a little overwhelming at first until my sister and I got our first Fast Pass. Having a Fast Pass meant we could ride any bus, anywhere within the city as many times as we wanted for the month it was issued. My sister and I hated taking the school bus. We wanted freedom. We wanted to be like the majority of the other kids at our new school and eventually our Dad agreed. We explored the many different ways to get to our school from our house. There were so many routes we could take, each route going through different parts of the city. Once we got comfortable taking the bus, we were allowed to go places on the weekends on our own. We would ride the bus down to Ocean Beach to spend the day listening to the waves and play in the sand or head downtown to window shop, people watch, and sneak into the St. Francis Hotel to ride the glass elevator. Sometimes we would hop from bus to bus all day just riding around the city seeing what we could see. We went everywhere. The City took us in. We found the best places to eat, we saw movies, made friends, listened to music, went to festivals, cherished every moment and made a new home.
I don’t live in the City anymore, but I’m not far and whenever I make my way back it’s like going home.