Escape in the Fog

This week brought me full circle. The Noir City film festival returns to the Castro Theater this week and with it comes the reminder that this time last year, we lived in Oakland.

Last year’s Noir City was a reality check. In moving to Oakland, I hadn’t anticipated that we’d have to give up much of what we loved in SF, but Noir City proved that the East Bay was farther than it appeared. There wasn’t enough time to go home between work and the film festival, so we’d leave the house at 8am to get to work and often we weren’t back home from the film festival until 10pm. We weren’t even getting the full festival experience since we didn’t stay for the nightly double features. Instead, we left early to start the journey home, taking MUNI to BART, and BART across the bay.

As rewarding as it is to be back in SF for Noir City this year, being back in the Castro reminds me why we decided to move to the East Bay in the first place. The Castro didn’t offer the life we wanted. It was a noisy place to live. It was noisy at night when our neighbors brought the party home with them after the bars closed, and it was noisy in the morning from the four people and two dogs running around in the flat above ours.

I’d lost faith that SF had quiet apartment buildings or considerate tenants. Mr. WholeHog’s Duboce Park apartment had been noisy, too, and so had my old building on 14th street. So we went to the East Bay, where we could rent a house and wouldn’t have to share any walls.

But now I know that we should have just moved to Noe Valley.

Noe isn’t known for nightlife and so far, no late night parties have kept us up. Just one woman lives in the flat above ours and she’s quiet and respectful. When she thought she’d been too loud early one morning, she brought us a bottle of champagne to apologize.

I feel surrounded by people who have made SF their home. Our landlord moved into the house in 1976, the year I was born. Our upstairs neighbor has been in her apartment since 1989. They know everyone on the block and every house, too. They’ve watched the green house across the street turned into flats. They remember when Incanto used to be a German restaurant. They know that our street is wider because there used to be a firehouse on our block, where now there’s a flat-front apartment building.

From Noe Valley, it’s a quick ride to the Castro on the 24 Divisadero bus. This year, we have dinner at home before heading to Noir City. We stay for the double features and often walk home afterwards. The walk takes me back through some of my favorite parts of our old SF neighborhood, down Liberty Street and up the Liberty Street stairs, up Sanchez where we watched the Fourth of July fireworks one year and then down into the quiet of Noe Valley.

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One Response to “Escape in the Fog”

  1. cryitout! Says:

    I keep meaning to stand on your curb at 5 a.m. with cymbals. Maybe next week.

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