It was a life-changing experience, this first three-month sabbatical that I took, the summer courses at the University of Berkeley (American Politics 101 and Digital Photography), and the people I met here, above all my room mate Renato.
We hit if off right away and discussed life, politics, history and society on this first night of 1 June 2007, over one or two bottles of California Zinfandel, until I dropped to bed.
The next day, he took me to his friends Anne’s birthday party, a lovely teacher and a good friend ever since, where I also met his friends Lisa and Dominic.
I first mistook them for a couple who were expecting their first child… but they were life partners in a much larger sense.
These three months were so amazing. I kept in touch and came back 18 times since. I really wanted to stay in touch with this special place, the city of San Francisco, and the friends I had made.
And Renato’s endless generosity to come back and crash at his home made it all possible.
Since then, he has moved in with his partner Dennis, who immediately extended his hospitality and friendship to me, and I have stayed countless nights at their place…
So when I came back this time around, for the 18th time, they let me stay at their place again.
I have no words to say how grateful I am for this friendship, the support, all the practical little things they have done for me.
From supporting my Burning Man adventure with many trips to Target, Home Depot and Safeway to get my stuff, to lending me a bike for the playa, a sleeping bag, and an endless number of things, to all the trips around California, the brunches and parties…
I could hardly ask for a better friend.
When I arrived here from the desert, my friend Vitor from Brussels had also found shelter at Renato&Dennis’ home in Mission terrace, for his 10-day visit at the Bay.
I spend the morning of Wednesday cleaning out my stuff. Washing my clothes, cleaning my shoes, answering long overdue emails….
Then I met both of them in the Castro, and we visited the LGBT museum.
After that, I took Vitor to one of my favorite spots in San Francisco, the top of the hill in Dolores Park (aka the gay beach), with an amazing view over the city and its downtown, with all the new construction, the high-risers, the dome of City Hall and the Transamerica Pyramid.
When I am there, I feel at home. Vitor and I took a nap in the sun. That’s all we did. That’s all it takes for me to feel at home, in the city and county of San Francisco.