Kelly Hoffer: San Francisco

What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
I grew up in NJ, about an hour outside of NY. Since my grandmother lived in Brooklyn, we would drive in see her – an odyssey that meant holding your breath through parts of Staten Island, swaying dangerously on the Verrazano bridge, getting stuck in 3 hours of traffic on the Belt parkway and eventually winding up in her 21st floor studio apartment. Several times the car got broken into while we were visiting and my brother and I would have to sit on towels for the drive home because of the broken glass on the seats. This seemed somehow perfectly normal… I convinced my mother to let me go to a summer photography program at Parsons when I was 17 which included sneaking into Limelight (a nightclub then) and being pulled into the Pride parade with the gay synagogue playing a techno version of Hava Nagila on repeat. I ended up at NYU, which was no surprise to anyone and stayed in NY until late 2008.
I never thought I would leave New York but the wind brought me to San Francisco and I fell in love with this quirky, light jacket requiring city.
Describe your experience in NYC.
I moved to NY in 1997 for college and thought I would never leave. I thought Lou Reed was right, that places outside of NY were scary, filled with bears and people that didn’t understand the importance of 24-hour everything. I lived all over the city; the village, downtown, Long Island City in Queens, Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, Van Vorst Park in Jersey City.
What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to SF?  
The lack of seasons; I still have a hard time distinguishing April from October. I miss thunderstorms, so much so that I will readily agree to visiting my parents in Florida to experience one.
The differences in public transportation; in ten years in NYC, I took maybe 5 buses. I didn’t realize you could actually successfully travel above ground in a city…
How early things happen in SF; dinner here seems “late” after 8.
The lack of urgency. New Yorkers have somewhere to be, that is why they have left their homes. If you are standing in the middle of the sidewalk in NY, you are disrupting the flow of sidewalk traffic and will be appropriately scoffed at and hints of “tourist” will be heard by those muttering while trying to avoid you. Here in SF, if you stop in the middle of sidewalk people will mosey around you not terribly fussed by the inconvenience. I still find myself caught between these two reactions.
How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
I’m not sure. I think they are good foils for each other. When you need a break from one, head to the other. I loved being in Brooklyn recently. I had been thinking maybe it was time to move back, but when my plane landed at SFO and I felt relieved to be “home” I knew I wasn’t ready to go back east yet.
My advice is try to find what you love in each city. Try not to constantly compare, but love each for what they offer and are best at. It’s a struggle (not to compare), but worth it.
Favorite SF secret spot
The Presidio. I lived there for 2 years and it is one of the most beautiful places in the city. It’s like living in a secret garden with a Yoda sculpture.
Favorite NYC secret spot
Veselka, though it’s definitely not a secret. Cheese perogies fried with apple sauce. Even lactose intolerance will not stop me from consuming these.
If you were not at Salesforce, what would you be doing?
When I was little, I wanted to be a marine biologist or a rock star. Both of those still seem like decent options, but I’ve got some grown up dreams too. I’m passionate about fighting for women’s reproductive rights, coming up with better/more ways to organize all the digital content we are amassing, and I still think I would like to be involved in something biology-driven…
Inflight Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
I’ve been listening to Beach House and the National, and not reading enough of anything, unfortunately.

From the 2905 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + SAN FRANCISCO

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