I heart San Francisco

Sometimes, I miss San Francisco.

Dan can get annoyed when he can tell I’m getting wistful–and start listing off the reasons we left–but I can’t help it. I’ll always miss her. Like an old friend, like a first love–she’s a part of me.
We had a friend over dinner (hi Sara!) and she asked: “Should I visit San Diego or San Francisco?” and of course my answer galloped out of my mouth before she even finished the question. Could explain to her why?
There are the obvious things–the beauty. The food. The Golden Gate Bridge.

But its the magic that I miss.

Sometimes I would run through the Marin Headlands on a sunny day after the spring rain, the hills would be so green and the ocean would just stretch on and on and I would think: this must be what heaven looks like.

Sometimes I would go down to Ocean Beach with a friend or a lover and a six pack at sunset and watch the sky turn orange while a plump harvest moon rose over the city. I would be so bowled over that I could just do that–watch the sun set over the Pacific on any old day.

Sometimes I’d see this girl hula hooping with headphones in–but she was really hooping, jamming out like no one was watching–in Washington Square Park. People really know how to hula hoop in San Francisco.

Once I walked down the street in the mission in a yellow skirt and a yellow ribbon in my hair and a man called out, “Hello yellow, I’ll be your mellow fellow!” and we both burst out laughing and kept walking in our opposite directions.

On one weekend in May, you’d find adults dressed as pirates or salmon or in tutus or painted gold or downright naked at the train station and just smile and shrug.

I always had a reason to wear glitter and plop feathers in my hair.

You could just head out toward anywhere and find a totally unexpected adventure. I mean there’s a dutch windmill, a field of bison, and an indoor rainforest within half a mile of one another. You can watch the Blue Angels, see Emmy Lou Harris, and then slap on your fur and party with Burners over the course of 24 hours. My friend once called it “the San Francisco playground” and that’s really what it’s like–a playground for adults with all these crazy characters and things to do and rides to take. When you live there it’s like you and everyone around you are in on this great secret and you wink at each other and sometimes you hug a stranger because you both just. Get it.

I could go on forever like this.

One time, Dan and I went down to Ocean Beach for sunset. It was the weekend of Outside Lands–the huge music festival in Golden Gate Park. We could hear Thievery Corporation thumping behind us. And just as the sky blushed pink, humpback whales started breaching offshore. That’s the kind of magic I’m talking about–where somehow Thievery Corporation, an ocean sunset, and humpback whales come out to play in your backyard. It’s so beautiful it’s impossible–and yet there it is.

Anything is possible

Something seemingly impossible happened this week.

Dan and I returned home from a weekend away skiing with the family and I had this little message waiting in my inbox–saying that I won something. I’ve been entering all these contests lately–mostly those ones for a trip to India or whatever that you’ll never ever win–it’s become sort of a joke that I’m determined to win a free trip for us. So at first I thought that’s what it was. But it was even better than that, friends.

I had actually won a writing competition that I almost forgot I had entered way back in October. Now here I am inclined to post about ten exclamation marks (!!!!!!!!!!!!) in order to syntactically illustrate to you how bowled over I was by the words, “Congratulations on being the Best List winner for your entry, ‘The Weekend Warriors Guide to Backpacking the Canadian Rockies.'” I had to read it about 200 times before it really sunk in, and then I just walked around the house repeating, “I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.”

Now, I know this not the Pulitzer or anything.  But it’s been a while since I felt any sense of accomplishment around writing/creative pursuits. In fact I spent much of last year feeling like maybe I would just give up.

I once read someone compare writing/creative work to marriage or a long term relationship. He said something along the lines of, we expect our writing to just fulfill us because we fell in love with it. But the writing won’t give back unless we give to it–unquestioning, generous, fully. Any long term love or pursuit is not easy, it’s not a given. You have wrestle with it, you have to give yourself up to it, you have make sacrifices. It’s messy. And sometimes it’s great, sometimes it sucks, and sometimes, when all the stars align, it’s sublime.

So my writing gave me this little piece back. I stayed up late on Sunday because I couldn’t sleep and of course the little buzz wouldn’t last forever, so I just sat in our La-z-boy and soaked it in. I felt my 20-something year old self sitting on my shoulder whispering, You see, anything is possible.

P.S. If you want to listen to my Radio Show from the other week, you can download it here.