- Bill Zarchy / Writer • Photographer • Storyteller - http://billzarchy.com/blog -

We Loved Our First House

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We loved our first house in San Francisco, in the Excelsior district of the Outer Mission. We loved the fact that we owned it, loved that we had managed to move quickly enough to evade eviction by our last landlady (who had suddenly decided to move into our apartment), loved that our living space had increased to include three bedrooms and two baths, loved that we now had a huge, two-car garage with washer and dryer and a concrete back yard we transformed into a garden with roses and sunflowers and paths of brick and camomile.

We loved our location across from Crocker Park, loved taking our toddler to the swings there, loved jogging around the park, loved watching the Samoans play cricket there on Sundays, loved seeing others play softball, loved strolling through the Eucalyptus-lined lanes.

We didn’t love the gunshots that emanated from the park in our first month living there, didn’t love the fact that our jogging route behind the grandstands took us through a smelly concrete canyon which had been used as a urinal since the beginning of time, didn’t love the handful of unsavory characters who hung out there, didn’t love that the long-promised clubhouse the city built there was finally completed around the time we left the neighborhood.

We didn’t love that our house was in direct line with the Daly City Fog Gap, didn’t love that it was usually cold and foggy and windy there, didn’t love that the previous owner (when asked about the weather) lied: “when it’s foggy here, it’s foggy everywhere,” didn’t love that we had to wear parkas to the park in the summer, didn’t love that the weather forced us to lean into the wind when returning to our house from the swings.

We loved our neighborhood, especially getting to know some of the Italian families who had lived there for generations. We loved meeting Ambrose and Charlie B——–, who had grown up together in the house Ambrose still occupied on our block (though Charlie had moved a few doors down after he married), loved learning that there were a number of B——– families in the neighborhood, including several Ambroses, all descended from grandmother Ambrosia.

We didn’t love the older couple next door, who had seemed nice until they sold their house and moved away, without a word to us, didn’t love the scumbag they sold it to, who we figured was a drug dealer, didn’t love the fact that he owned three attack-trained Dobermans, didn’t love that the Dobermans didn’t get along (which meant that one had to be outside at all times), didn’t love the fact that the dogs would leap up on the fence between our yards, snarling and barking furiously, whenever we went out back, didn’t love that the scumbag didn’t care that his dogs barked all the time and didn’t care that we had a new baby in the house.

We loved that, after several SFPD noise citations to the scumbag, the DA referred our dispute to neighborhood arbitration, loved that Ambrose and Charlie B——– showed up to support us and attest to the barking dog nuisance, loved that the scumbag brought a lawyer who urged him to agree to keep his dogs in at night, loved learning that spraying the dogs with a hose (when the scumbag was absent) would send them inside through the dog door, loved that the dogs quickly learned to go inside every time they heard our back door open.

We didn’t love that the public schools in our neighborhood were poor and our toddler was about to turn three.

So we moved.

We loved our new house in the East Bay, just north of Berkeley …

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