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At Home in Noe Valley

I've lived in my San Francisco apartment for nearly six years, the longest I've ever lived in a home in my entire life. On the outside, my building looks like a rather lonely place — a standalone turquoise building with purple awning and a large graffiti mural on the side detailing scenes from this quaint San Francisco neighborhood.

At Home in Noe Valley

However, on the inside, I like to believe that it's not a lonely place, but rather a creative space for meeting, gathering and sharing good company.

Given my nomadic history, I've developed a bit of an attachment to this home. I first moved into the building in the downstairs unit with a couple friends in 2011. We lived there for one month before being forced to leave because of an apartment fire. Thankfully, none of the residents were in the building at that time, and we were able to retrieve most of the items from our unit. However, our upstairs neighbors, who lived in the unit that I currently reside in, were not as lucky — they lost everything.



As someone who values "home" and who has a particular attachment to space, I found the temporary displacement, our sudden loss of home, quite disturbing.

For weeks, we shuffled around trying to find a permanent home. A few of us moved into a large house in the Castro that was able to accommodate six people (three from the upstairs unit and the three of us from my unit). At that time, we were uncertain whether or not we would move back into the apartment; we were simply trying to find our footing since we had lost what we had known of as home.

Every few months after the fire, I would check-in with the landlord about the status, uncertain whether I should find a more permanent place or wait for the apartment to be rebuilt. Something inside me kept telling me to hold tight. Hold on a little longer for the apartment to be ready, and maintain a sense of uncertainty in the interim.

It took a year before I was able to move back in. Since no other residents chose to return, I formed an even greater attachment to the space — taking on a sort of responsibility for the apartment as the one who has lived there the longest.

At Home in Noe Valley

While I've decorated the space pretty well, it still doesn't quite match the truest vision I have for this place, and for the fullest expression of this apartment as a home. I guess, for some reason, I'm still holding back on making this into my dream apartment. But I'm hopeful that soon I'll have a new found commitment to this place. 

In some ways, I do see this home almost as a reflection of how I've addressed my own creative expression — timidly and unrealized. I'm excited, though, for my apartment to reach its full potential as a home, just as I'm equally excited to further delve into my creativity.