Dear Potrero Hill,
You may not know me, but I’ve known about you for a long time. Not to sound creepy, but I’ve been wanting to get to know you better for years! I’ll be honest, when I first heard your name, I confused it for one of the many other City hills (which one is Nob Hill, then?). If only I had known then what I know now! Potrero Hill, you’re ideal! I’ve been with other neighborhoods, Potrero, and each seems more jealous than the last of your views, houses, and bountiful parking.
On each of my trips up from Mountain View, I’ve gotten to know you better over time (I get to see plenty of you while waiting for a table at Plow…). Your food is great, you’ve got a cute bookstore, and really fun bars!
Your homes are lovely. Somehow your historical Victorians and your new modern wood and glass box homes have inexplicably meshed so well. And your Rec Center has got to be the best in the City!
Your beautiful and varied trees (palms, gingkos, figs, bottlebrushes, plums, pears; the list never ends!) and flowers (I can’t name a single one) are a visual splendor. It seems every family or dog-walker I pass has a smile on their face and a friendly greeting.
And not to get too lewd, Potrero, but your curves… Potrero, I could fill volumes writing about your curves. God knows, they make me pant.
So, what do you say? Will you accept this rental application?
Your Secret Admirer
I can’t thank you enough for letting me into your life. At the start of every day, I leave my apartment, look east at the sun rising over the Bay, and wait for my bus while admiring the awakening of the City and the beautiful fenced-off white Victorian on 18th and Pennsylvania. And when I leave work at the end of every day, hop on the 22, and climb up the steep street to my home, I always take a moment to pause at the top and look out over this beautiful City, privileged that I can have this viewpoint.
Although visitors may carp about the steepness, I love how you challenge me every day to be a better person; or at least a better hiker! That’s something that I’ll make sure to write down on a card for the Gratitude Tree outside Hazel’s.
I’ll also need to write about my gratitude for your residents! They are such lovely people. From cute family-friendly activities like the Potrero Hill Festival to the zaniness of the Big Wheel Race and the Pet Parade, your friends always have a good time! And outside of big events, they’ve been incredible neighbors; kind, friendly, helpful. You really know how to pick em!
I’ve loved how you’ve let me take such long walks across you. Every trip somehow feels both familiar and new. Wending my way to Starr King, I pass by some of my favorite homes and stores, sometimes with the pleasure of inhaling the sweet smell of wort from Anchor (at seemingly random times). But I can still get so wonderfully lost, finding new hidden stairways and discovering new intersections where I can see distant water in three directions with mountains beyond. And there are always new angles and vantages of the more proximate valleys nearby. The endless hours I’ve spent pondering the pattern in the order of the state-named streets only further highlight how mysterious you remain.
I am glad to still be learning more about my greatest friend. So yes, P, I would love to extend my lease with you.
It pains me to write this (I feel as choked up as the array of wires on 18th), but unfortunately, like all good things, this relationship will have to come to an end. It’s hard to say goodbye, Potrero Hill. So, in order to help me, I’ll need to focus on the things that I won’t miss to distract me from the things that I will.
While I’ve loved many of your views, I feel lately like I’ve become more familiar with your valleys; those intersections where it feels like the streets are swallowing me up on every side, like some Christopher Nolan film. Your heart has become as inaccessible as the inside of Jackson Park. I grow weary of the strategizing, planning, and mapping I must do to avoid your steepest streets.
You had to have known that this was coming. The hours we spent fighting each other, through the windy hilltops and long cold lonely nights. The angry yelling during construction or sold-out concerts at AT&T Park.
These fights are just us trying to avoid what we both know so well but never want to talk about: I’m going to have to move out eventually. There’s only so long I can continue to rent if I want to have a family someday. And we both know that I can’t afford you. But I’ll always love you. So, let’s enjoy the time we have together before the end.
Your Longtime Renter
Corey Donahue lives on Mississippi Street.