1. People are serious about this "Bay Area" business. From what I can tell (aka, what Wikipedia says), The Bay Area--which also includes cities like Oakland, Berkeley, and San Jose--is about 7,000 square miles. The Chicago metro area is about 11,000. But whether you're from Skokie, Hinsdale, or I'd venture to guess Rockland, if you take one step outside of Illinois, where are you from? Chicago. It's just allllllll Chicago. But Christ forbid you say you live in San Francisco if you do NOT. I mean, these other cities have their own SPORTS TEAMS. That is how serious they are about being from the "Bay Area" and not from "San Francisco". I think it has to do with this whole limiting bodies of water thing they've got going on.
2. We live near the ocean. I mean, EVEN NEARER than other people in the Bay Area. Which means, when it's foggy, foghorns keep us awake at night. CORRECTION: foghorns keep ME awake at night, because Joe falls asleep if you so much as say the word "pajamas". The problem is, the foghorns keep me awake because then I start thinking of Angel Marie's foghorn noises on Muppet Treasure Island.
Every time. Also, our windows don't keep out much sound because they are possibly the thinnest windows ever created. They might actually just be tightly stretched Saran Wrap. It makes sense: if there's never an insane winter, why bother spending money on stormproof glass? Because of the foghorns. THAT'S WHY.
3. To rival Luna, I present to you: Sleep Train Mattress Center. Jingle: "Sleep Traaaaain! (*train whistle*) Your ticket to a better night's sleeeeep!" And what image do you see while this jingle is rolling? Why, a VAN, of course. Apparently proximity to Los Angeles does not make for better local ads.
4. San Francisco is some kind of magical Mecca for restaurants. The combination between small-business love, hipsters, transplants from around the country/world, and young people with money creates a cesspool of creative, amazing restaurants. And you will never go to all of them. You just won't. There is always a slightly different experience you haven't had yet, and they all have descriptions to rival Stefon's. It's like that thing, where you sit outside with heating lamps and eat gourmet curry fried chicken while you watch a movie on a giant brick wall?
5. The weather. So listen. I know Chicago winters are eyeball-numbingly cold. I'm not going to stand here and gloat. But San Francisco is not southern California either. Basically, if you wear close-toed shoes, a scarf, and a medium-weight pea coat, you'll be fine almost every day of the year. And I'm okay with it.
6. Some of these buses are HIT. Like, Mickey Rourke-level hit. Graffiti everywhere. They look like how I imagine all of New York looked in the 80's. The double-length accordian buses have seen the worst of it, because the bus driver can't see people back there. It's become so bad, they have a special announcement on the bus that tells you how to report vandalism--in 3 languages, no less. I even witnessed it, too. I did what the announcement said and texted in the bus number, but nothing happened. I really wanted to be there when a squadron of police kicked open the back doors and dragged the guys away (how I imagine cops handle light vandalism). I could even bear witness because I took pictures of them IN THE ACT. But for nothing. Just so I could have pictures of two idiots ruining a bus.
7. On the bus, you don't notice the hills. In a taxi you DO. I guess because the bus is going slower and pulling over every second, and a taxi is careening through time and space. But I really almost forget about the hills until I'm in a taxi.
8. I have never smelled pot so often in my life. I guess it's the mixture of hippies and easily-attainable legal mary jane. But SERIOUSLY. Probably every day.
9. Homeless San Franciscans are on a whole different level than Homeless Chicagoans. See, people in Chicago are homeless because stuff has gone down in their lives. They've seen things. The homeless people of San Francisco have only seen things because the people in their head TELL them so. Sure, there are crazy people in Chicago, too. But more often than not, Chicagoans are just cold and hungry and quietly smelly. The homeless people in San Francisco are of a louder, more rambunctious seed. One guy just stands on the corner blowing raspberries into the air to make himself laugh. They do not claim doorways to hide from the wind. They move freely and with gusto. And it requires a serious ability to ignore those around you, which my little sister simply does not have.
10. I do not get tired of Joe.This isn't actually a difference between San Francisco and Chicago, it's just something I've noticed of my San Francisco experience. Before I moved, I was curious--when we moved to a new land with few distractions to keep us apart, could we survive on nothing but each other? The answer, so far, has been yes. I just don't get tired of him. EVEN when he calls laundry, "Laundo Calrissian" (Which he does. Every time.) I mean, maybe talk to me in 50 years when we're yelling at each other in Walgreens because neither of us can see to read the cough syrups any more (or perhaps did we witness that from an old couple last weekend). But for all the time I spend with the guy, and it's a LOT, I don't find myself planning his untimely demise. All in all, it's been pretty smooth sailing.