Sleepless in San Francisco

Abraham Woodliff
3 min readJun 30, 2022


Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

It was roughly 2:30 AM and I had woken up to a racing heart accompanied by a subtle anxiety. This wasn’t the worst it’s ever been, but it never felt good. I sat up and looked around the dimly lit room. It was just as messy as it was when I had taken seven times the recommended dose of melatonin in an attempt to sleep through the night. I rarely slept through the night, yet, I always closed my eyes in the hopes that I would.

San Francisco was a loud city, and I lived on a main street that served as a bridge between the Tenderloin and the Mission District, but after the bars let out, the city slept, even if I didn’t. I got out of bed and stepped onto my balcony. I could feel the mist of the Pacific on my skin. I was breathing the ocean’s breath. It felt nice. It was quiet out. The cars were parked and the homeless had finally been housed, at least it felt that way. I wished it was always like this. I loved the big buildings and the dirty streets. I just wanted the people to go away. I often found myself envious of Will Smith in I Am Legend. He seemed distressed, but, in my opinion, that was only because he had the wrong perspective. If you’re in an abandoned city, you’re no longer in a city, but an artifact to explore.

I fantasized about breaking into homes, not to steal their stuff, but to understand the people that inhabited them better. The world seemed like a big masquerade everybody was forced to attend, yet no one admitted to attending. Public life was a collection of accepted lies. I wanted to know what people were actually like — how they actually felt. The only way to do that was to breach their homes, read their diaries and dirty their dishes. My hope was that maybe, just maybe, if I broke everything down to its most basic form and got a bird’s eye view of life, I could justify my own.

I often felt alienated. I didn’t really have a home or a family. I wanted to connect to others, but I didn’t really know how. My personality was a collection of one liners and clever quips, but beyond that, I was a shell.
I looked down at the street below; it was still quiet. A few cars had passed, but nothing like it would be during the day. It was a big city after all. There’s really no such thing as a big city. New York City was barely a village in the eyes of existence. San Francisco wasn’t even a blip on the fucking radar. We’re all so small and life is so big. I was there, in the middle of my life, standing on a balcony. Someone that I have never met was just born. Someone else was just murdered somewhere by someone. Birth is a question and death is an answer.

It was getting chilly so I stepped back into my apartment and looked out of the sliding glass door. San Francisco’s skyline was rendered invisible by the fog. No lights, no nothin’. Just obscurity. I was tired.

And I was afraid I always would be.




Abraham Woodliff

Bay Area native, Hip Hop nerd, literature and poetry enthusiast, freelance writer, gamer, caffeine addict. Follow me on Twitter.