My old office chair sat dismantled on the corner of my block. I had released it to the sidewalk earlier that day and it traveled down the street, seemingly on its own, before the legs were taken off and the seat ripped out. Finally, it disappeared altogether.

And so the city absorbed my former life — chairs, old books, inherited knick-knacks, even my nostalgia. A friend asked me recently, “Why San Francisco?”, and I couldn’t form an answer that seemed complete enough. Of course, it’s always easier to understand a place when you’re looking back at it. Thirteen years ago, I came to observe…