West Coast, Best Coast?

Kicking it in San Francisco

Bouquet 03 by Casper Sejersen.

I first came to San Francisco three years ago during a bitter New York February. After mere moments, I said to G: I love San Francisco and I hate New York. Why do we live there?

But life is funny like that. Since then, I have adored New York (almost unbearably so), flirted with moving to LA and now I’m here. At some point in the week, I said to G: maybe this is just more fun when Lana del Rey sings about it but that also wouldn’t be the whole picture. San Francisco to me has always been about an experiment, a West Coast E, and who would that be?

I find it wholesome here: the expressions like “just another day in the Bay”, how I’ve maybe seen more dogs and strollers than people and how strangers never fail to pass me on the street without saying “hey”. Everything is “hella cool” and I should “slide” aka, come thru.

One afternoon I found myself in Dolores Park jamming out with J because nobody there knew all the words to Mardy Bum until suddenly it wasn’t just us and the people next door sat up in their “isolation circle”, and then the next circle and the next circle until we were circles of circles swaying. We began clapping to the rhythm and exchanging refrains and then the melody changed and it was Thinkin Bout You and we all felt that a little hard (“hit different”) and hollered J’s Venmo to the park because we’re in times like these and there he was imparting joy, us with toothy smiles because it’s been a while since we felt that closeness.

I was foolish to think that things might, for once this year, go to plan. There are quiet moments. I never know if I chose right. But if they had gone to plan then I wouldn’t be here in this apartment while Baianidade Nagô wafts through the air and the hot sun streams through the windows and all over again I feel like I’m rolling, rolling, rolling, like the hills that frame these landscapes, and maybe my resilience has become a strange thing to me, an acceptance that we never really know where it is we’re going after all or how we swerved onto this bendy road and that it’s lonely and excruciating and also something sensational to behold.

Someone once told me that I would like driving in Northern California when the time came and the time is now and that turned out to be entirely true.


Normally I’d like to fill this space with things that I’ve read or seen that were of note in the last week. But truth be told, I’ve barely been online, barely read anything worth sharing or tapped into whatever’s happening in ~culture~. Everything has been tangible and also invisible which is why I’m telling you about it: the books I’ve read have been held in my hands, the parks and views are committed to memory and to my surprise I’ve acquired a weird back tan from trawling the hills here. I had no idea September sun would be so strong.

Strangely, the “little commitment” of writing this newsletter once weekly is the main one that I’ve kept, simply by virtue of manageable parameters. I’ve been wondering about lots of things: what compels a stranger towards selfless kindness, what compels people (like me?) towards reckless abandon, what conclusion I’ll come to about my life when I lie down to sleep tonight, what our world will look like in a month, a year, about recurrences, about the work of being grateful for things I have lost and how I’m surprised when little things still hurt…

Wherever it is you are, I hope you feel the love a shade deeper today and look at the sky more.


I’m Emily Nabnian and Send Virtual Flowers is a weekly digital bouquet from me to you about that moment when the feeling strikes. It is an experiment in alternative modes of communication inspired by the things that touch me and perhaps you too. If someone came to mind while you were reading this, consider passing the bouquet along by sharing.