A strange day as San Francisco celebrates . . . and mourns our dead at the same time
Published 18/06/2015 | 02:30
The fact that San Francisco International Airport was lit up with blue and gold, the Golden State Warrior's colours, as devastated parents and siblings were touching down from Dublin is a particularly chilling juxtaposition.
It was a strange day in the Bay Area yesterday. The whole city of San Francisco was celebrating the Warriors' NBA victory less than 24 hours after the six students fell to their deaths just across the bay. It is an enormous tragedy felt by many, but city life goes on for most people and the festivities are likely to continue for a few days, with a parade and rally tomorrow to honour the team who scooped their first basketball title in 40 years.
It doesn't mean locals don't care about the victims, the survivors, their families and friends, but it doesn't really resonate with the majority of people here the same way as it has for Irish immigrants, or perhaps the shaken community of Berkeley.
The candles, wreaths and tearful people at the scene are just a small vignette in the greater life of an area with a population of more than seven million.
While the NBA game was played in Cleveland, Ohio, it was virtually impossible to get one of the 17,000 tickets to be part of the raucous sell-out crowd that filled the Warriors' Oracle Arena in Oakland on Tuesday night.
Nose-bleed seats at the local playoffs over the past two weeks were changing hands for a minimum of $800, so without sounding flippant, it would have taken something akin to the plot of the movie 'San Andreas' to put a stop to the street parties, firecrackers and occasional celebratory gunshots. One friend, from Westport, admitted: "It is weird how little people have acknowledged it here and perhaps the excitement of the Warriors just took over being able to dwell on it. It's so sad, but no one in work has said anything to me except two Irish co-workers."
But very few people are actually from San Francisco. Like the majority of the US, it is built and loved by immigrants. Aside from a few handfuls of friends from Oakland, Berkeley, or South Bay suburbs like Menlo Park and Los Gatos, most of the people I know and meet are from elsewhere.
The majority of people know what it's like to be so far away from your family that in many ways your friends become your family.
This is also the tech capital of the world, where few ideas are too big, the hours are long and the rents are extra high, but everyone here appreciates an opportunity to have a good time.
When the sun is out or the nights are warm, you'll find most people clambering to find a roof-deck, garden or balcony to sit out on and enjoy a few drinks - just like Olivia, Eoghan, Niccolai, Lorcán, Eimear and Ashley.