Growing up in a small town in Sweden, I was always a bit of an oddball. I read Russian literature, listened to classical music and spent my days daydreaming about traveling the world. I never wore the right clothes, no matter how hard I tried, and I often felt painfully inadequate when it came to beauty and a sense of cool. But somehow, I kept my flame alive and by sheer luck stumbled upon a study-abroad program to San Francisco my first year in college.
After six months in the city, the doors to my heart had blown wide open. Discovering that first feeling of who you are, without the influence or opinions of others, was exhilarating. I had found a place that allowed me to be whatever I liked, without anyone’s judgment. A city that was filled with intellectuals, ex-hippies, post-yuppies, yogis, writers and artists. I made mistakes: I rode on the back of too many motorcycles, I permed my hair (once), I wore cut-off Levi’s jeans and I developed a bad caffeine habit that remains to this day. But I also studied harder than I ever had before, I grew more empathetic to others and I listened – actually listened – to my own heart. All the little puzzle pieces fell into place, and I felt free.
So this week, I’m sharing a little bit of my favorite city in the world with you. On Tuesday, we’ll go inside the 2012 San Francisco Decorator Showcase for a peek at what this year’s interior designers did to an historic Pacific Heights mansion. Wednesday, I’ll take you inside North Beach’s eclectic antique store Aria, filled with wonderful finds and collectibles from across the world. Thursday is the premiere of the first Artist Questionnaire, and Friday we’ll kick off the weekend with a photographic tour of the city and the Presidio.
Needless to say, I left a piece of my heart in San Francisco. Living here gave me the courage to unite with the oddball within me, and embrace her. Most of all, it taught me that we have to allow each other to lose our way, to express ourselves, to falter, to be different, to search and ultimately to pave our own path.
Photograph by Ulrica Wihlborg ©2013.