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    There’s No Place Like (an Acronym for) Home, Especially If It’s CoPa!

    BT 5.5. 1-32_Page_19_Image_0003Moving to San Francisco from deep in the heart of Texas (or anywhere, really) can be quite confusing. There is the liberating part of finally getting to be one’s authentic self–even if that means walking down Market Street naked! But perhaps the hardest part about moving to the “City by the Bay” is deciphering neighborhood acronyms and precious nicknames.

    Finding your way around San Francisco neighborhoods is as confusing as trying to learn a second language, like English. You would think, to quote an ancient equine-themed sitcom (please sing along), “An s is an s, an s, an s.” But that’s not true. An “s” can be pronounced many different ways: see, sure, rose, pleasure–to name a few.

    Navigating is on a par with the one-way streets, steep hills and lack of street signs. Whoever thought one street sign per crossing was enough when there are 4 stops?

    Where are these mysterious places of which people speak with varying degrees of pride, joy or, sometimes, disdain?

    When I learned that I was coming to San Francisco, I started looking at websites to find a place to live. Oh, my! Inner or outer–Sunset or Richmond? Or upper or lower–Haight or Pac Heights? I knew I wanted to live in the global “epicenter of gay,” the Castro. So I looked at places in Castro Valley. Surely that was the lovely valley at 18th and Castro known as Hibernia Beach. I had no way to know it was actually a distant land 26 miles away and across a bridge! But rent prices were certainly attractive. And, can you see Lake Merced from Merced?

    BT 5.5. 1-32_Page_19_Image_0004

    Then the real trouble began. I learned that SoMa and NoPa were cool. I wasn’t sure about SoCha (South of Cesar Chavez) or SOMISSPO (SoMa meets Mission meets Potrero–they obviously left the “t” off of the end: SoMissPot). There were some that just didn’t make any sense at all such as LORI (Lower Outer Rincon Hill). Should I try to live in the Tenderloin, Nob Hill or in-between–on the Tendernob?

    Should I embrace being a so-called “bridge-and-tunnel” person and go all the way to the East Bay? Having lived in both Austria and Switzerland, I thought that Twin Peaks, known locally as the “Swish Alps,” sounded heavenly. I wondered what kind of exotic cheeses and delectable chocolate, politically neutral neighbors and pacifists would be there. Maybe we could enjoy a lovely evening over fondue, snow falling outside, and a cow or two strolling by? Not to generalize or stereotype…

    I thought about the suburbs, but couldn’t get all of the San’s and Santa’s straight: Santa Rosa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Bruno, San Jose, San Mateo, San Rafael, San Leandro.

    What’s a gay to do?

    I actually lived in several of these SF neighborhoods, as do many who come to the city. I lived in Duboce Triangle, the Inner Sunset, Oakland and San Bruno. I know. It’s a lot. Trust me, I have neither an insatiable wanderlust, nor am I running from the law. They stopped chasing me when I hit the Texas/New Mexico border 5 years ago. I was just trying to find a home that fit. Moving that much did help me to pare down the belongings I had dragged here from Texas. I reduced the number of cowboy boots, hats, saddles and spittoons with each move.

    Well, it happened. After only 5 years as a nomad, my husband Dan and I have purchased a place of our own.

    I just can’t wait to tell you where it is. Wait for it.

    It’s in the highly rated, desirable CoPa (or COPA, if you prefer all caps). We felt that CoPa was not well-known enough to stand on its own and needed one more word. Cabana just seemed too gay. So, we’ve decided that we now live in “CoPa Heights.”

    Where is that, you ask?

    Well, it is a little-known treasure at the crossroads between San Francisco and Daly City, now known as Cow Palace Heights, or CoPa Heights.

    It’s just awesome. We have a place we can truly call home. And we can also enjoy weekends by going to the hemp, tattoo or gun conventions mere steps from our front door! Each June the AIDS/LifeCycle ride departs from the palace of cows, and we’ll be there volunteering. Dan has participated in 10 ALC rides thus far! I support in other ways. I no longer pedal anything.

    We are confused no more. And we will “surely have the pleasure of seeing roses, too!” Oh, and “you can take the boy out of Texas, but…” our address is Saddleback Drive. So much for getting rid of the saddles.

    We have found a little slice of CoPa Heights heaven.

    1. Disclaimer: CoPa did not really exist until this article hit the newstands. The phrase was coined by friends, Jim and Joe, over a fabulous dinner with copious amounts of California wine overlooking the city from DH (Diamond Heights) or was it more TP (Twin Peaks)? Perhaps it’s really DHTP.

    Dr. Tim Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.