Living in the Castro was a mixed bag. On the one hand, Gabriella was a 7 minute bus journey or a 20 minute walk away from school. On the other hand, it meant a 40 minute drive to Mill Valley to get Max to school.
On the one hand, it gave Gabriella loads of independence. On the other hand, it meant a 40 minute drive to get Max to school.
On the one hand, we got to know a part of the city better. On the other hand, it meant a 40 minute drive to get Max to school.
The resentment about the driving seems to have leaked out. And we definitely went through a period of thinking that we’d made a mistake by choosing to stay in the city for that month while waiting to get access to our house.
However, we’ve changed our minds. The realisation that staying in the city was a stroke of genius came suddenly, but with the force of total acknowledgement. It was when we arranged to meet a friend at the America’s Cup park and she arrived two hours late because she’d driven and had trouble getting there. Alyssa has lived and worked in Marin, a mere 30 minutes from the centre of San Francisco (and only 5 miles or so from our new home) for nearly two years. She made a few little mistakes in her journey, that anyone familiar with the city would know not to make (including driving rather than using public transport! It took a towing for us to notice that). And when she arrived, frazzled and after the racing had finished, she pointed out that she lives and works in Marin and hardly ever comes into the city.
That was my epiphany moment. Last time we were here, that was me. My whole life was based in Marin. Ian worked in the city, so had a much better grasp of life there (though he’s learnt a lot more by living there for a month), but I hardly ever went there.
In addition, Gabriella’s become independent in a remarkably short time. From living in Buriton, in the middle of nowhere, and relying on a parental taxi service to get anywhere and everywhere, she’s learnt how to navigate a major city and to use her nous when she’s at a loss. She’s downloaded an app that tells her about public transport timetables in the city, she uses GoogleMaps on her iPhone and she gets herself to friends’ houses. In short, she’s learnt to use her initiative.
In retrospect, that irritating 40 minute drive to get Max to school was worth it.