Reflections on San Francisco

I went to San Francisco from May 31 to June 8 to visit my brother and his girlfriend–the first time I’d been back since JVC ended three years ago.  I share with you a journal entry from the trip:

Thursday, June 7, 2012, 5:30 p.m.
Mission Dolores Park

San Francisco–

You are a beautiful city but you are not my city.  You were, once, almost.  Maybe.  You are full of possibilities and random crazy adventures, and I love that about you.  I love the excitement, the diversity, the views, the poppies, the people, the abundance of organic groceries and shops in general.  I love the famousness of you.  You are a great place to visit or to live for a year, but you’re not a place I call home.

I remember when I lived here how I would spend my weekends going up a hill, to a park, or to the ocean–seeking out nature in the midst of all this bubbling city life.  I am not a city girl, at heart.  I like trees too much, and sunsets, and meadows, and farming.  This is good to know about me, right?

But it’s fabulous that I lived here for a year and part of me of course wishes that I had more time to spend here now.  Traveling is confusing that way.  Why do I uproot myself from my home to spend a week here, a week there, getting a taste of a different life in a different city and then letting it go?  Vacations are a great tease.  What is the point if there is no potential for making it permanent?  Is it just to shake things up?  Broaden my perspective?  Learn a few things I can take back and apply to my own life?  I’m honestly not sure.  Traveling is a mixed bag.  I’m always reluctant to leave where I am, whether it’s Buffalo or San Francisco or somewhere else altogether.  In this case, I’m hoping the trip serves to further shake me out of the rut I’ve been in for the past year or so, prior to Farmer Piracy.

Dan took the day off yesterday and we did almost everything–hiked Ocean Beach to the Sutro Baths, wandered around the Mission, went to Mural Alley and the pirate store at 826 Valencia, went to Rainbow Grocery and brought cookies to the current JVs at my old apartment, had dinner at the Flying Pig cafe on the same block, and climbed a peak near his house to watch the sunset.  Today has been my only solo touring day.  I walked around Haight and saw the Grateful Dead house and Janis Joplin’s old house; I went up Market via old street cars and saw the market at Civic Center and my old workplace on Steuart; I had a bagel at Noah’s Bagels; I went to the Ferry Building and got a pirate book for my former boss’s toddler daughter, and I went to Boudin and got a turtle-shaped loaf of sourdough to bring home and share with J.  Solo traveling is nice but a little lonesome after a while.

I read a biography of Janis Joplin a couple of years ago and it made an impression on me.  When I went to see where she had lived, I was kind of surprised that it looked like a regular house.  Things are like that here, I think–this city isn’t as stuck in the past as mine is, as I am.  Of course it’s a regular house.  A regular family probably lives there.  Things change, people move on.  A store closes and another opens in its place.  It seems less common here for buildings to stand empty for decades.  (Maybe none of this is true of these cities beyond my limited perspective.)

I love my Buffalo, though, with its decaying grain elevators and aging buildings and its history and ghosts and nostalgia.  I love that I can drive through Chautauqua County and feel what I couldn’t find today in the Haight.  I love that Buffalo is a place where my eccentricity is actually considered eccentric.  It’s a little harder to be invisible, which is good for someone like me who tends to fade into the background.  Because Buffalo is smaller I feel like I have more potential to actually effect change.  And I can pirate-farm, which is pretty rad.

Sourdough Turtle Bread

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