San Francisco

San Francisco is not where I grew up. But it is where I made my home.

 

San Francisco to me, is where I could live everyday open to new surprises and opportunities, always unsure of just what the day would hold, but more often than not those surprises delighted me.

 

To me, San Francisco is seeing half the world before it’s even 9AM, hiking those iconic mountainous hills halfway to the stars but making it to the top and landing the most stunning view of sparkling, vast Bay ocean. 

It is averting my gaze from the trolleys that glide by me as I was walking to school, so that my face didn't appear in the photos and videos of the 38 tourists squished together, arms outstretched recording their journey on their phones and cameras.

 

Yet I still smile that those trolleys exist at all, adding to the whimsical charm that belongs to San Francisco. I wonder just how many stranger’s photos I’m actually in, simply from passing by at the right (or wrong) moment just as the button is clicked.

 

To me, San Francisco is heading out in any direction and not being afraid of getting lost because I always know where home is. 

It is heading up that last hill after deciding, ultimately, not to skip out on class in favor of making an easy turn that would take me right down to the wharf, where I could maybe grab some In-N-Out for lunch and wander along the docks; maybe find a place to sit and write or read, or just watch as all the people pass by.

 

A man dressed as Elmo wants money for pictures taken with him. A stuffed Mickey Mouse toy sits atop a wooden pole sticking out of the water, presumably as an unconventional way of indicating ownership of that dock— but then again San Francisco is itself unconventional, and that is why I love it.

 

San Francisco for me is walking Leavenworth day after day because it is the prettiest and cleanest route, and deciding upon whether or not I should stop into the tiny letterpress shop to say hi to Kristen, the owner, who also grew up in Sacramento.

It is finding abstract notes

in every form in every

corner of the city…

notes to past lovers,

to current lovers,

to themselves,

to a friend,

to a stranger,

to you,

to me?

It is finding random discarded toys, trinkets, objects, and perfectly intact butterfly wings given to a so-called friend.

 

A tiny plastic purple car that has found itself parked at the top of a wall.

 

It is climbing that wall to see the view, even in the rain.

 

It is looking up at the sky and still seeing the buildings below.

 

It is grabbing a hotel for the night on Halloween even though I live just three blocks away, because we wanted a night to ourselves. 

It is going to one of the fanciest restaurants in the city and squeezing three people into two seats at the bar because when we are together we are spontaneous— and a little too loud. But we take the cake anyway. It is freedom to go anywhere at any time because as long as you can walk you can go as far as your legs will take you. It is living far away from friends because no one can afford to live close to campus, but that just makes friendly visits that much more of an adventure.

 

It is driving out at 6AM to hike for a day to get away from the noise of the city and unpacking a picnic in the trees, and later falling into a stream but laughing about all of it. It is 10pm walks to the liquor store, not to buy liquor but because we had a sudden hankering for some cheesecake. It’s a party in the basement of a record store in the Mission on a friend’s birthday, and deep discussions about Donnie Darko while surrounded by abstract art. It’s a salsa stain on a beach towel; a handwritten note tucked into a previously-read book in my favorite bookstore; it’s pretending that we live in the apartment that we definitely don’t live in, just so we can climb up the ancient fire escape out the window in the upstairs hallway to watch the sunset from the roof. It is the world at my fingertips, 

and so much more. 

© 2020 by Reid Fowler. All rights reserved.