I tell people I am from San Francisco and they gasp. “It’s so beautiful there!” They shriek in abject horror, “Why would you ever leave!?” Ask me in May and I have good answers: I love New York! Theatre! Contacts! Networking! Change of scene! Ask me in January why I left San Francisco for New York? I’ll clutch my cold red cheeks with my frozen fingers and cry, “For I am a fool! A FOOL!”
Oh, I exaggerate. As I type, I am on a plane, returning to NYC after 2 glorious weeks in San Francisco. It was a lovely holiday full of sunny days and family time but I’m glad to go back. (Even if it’s freezing, I was going to say, but then weather.com informed me the current temperature in NYC is 43°, barely colder than San Francisco, currently at 48°!) My life is in New York.
Still- the beaches, the sun, flowers constantly in bloom, trees that never loose their leaves- it does make you feel something of a fool to leave behind. Okay, so I am something of a fool. I wouldn’t argue with that. California, I kiss you a fond good bye. Knowing you are forever my roots and I’ll return to again and again.
I had a perfect California Saturday. Pictures and memories will get me through the abysmal gray, the slush, the biting wind, and dirty snow that get closer every minute on this flight back east.
It was a mother-daughter day. Together we hopped on a bus, MUNI public transportation, and went to the beach. California cliché much? The ride alone was worth the $2 fare. Through the Presidio and across the Golden Gate to the grassy hills of the Marin Headlands. Out the window California sun shone on brilliant blues and greens. In the seats behind us French tourists marveled, “Ooohlala!”
We exited the bus at the last stop- Rodeo Beach. Mountains on our right, beach on our left- that combo is Northern California in a nutshell. Quickly leaving the bus stop, we began what a San Franciscan would call a walk and what a New Yorker would call a hike. Up into the hills on a muddy path, the Pacific Ocean sparkling all around. Hello, sea of my home land, I missed you.
An overpass looked back out on the beach. An unexpected view that provided an hour of entertainment. Surfers down below, braving the ocean in full body wet suits, tackled the surf. Leaning against the railing at the edge of the cliff, my mother and I sipped tea from a thermos (mothers always remember snacks) and cheered them on. Here comes a good wave! Get it, get it! Oh he’s good. Ouch, that looked painful. Our words floated away on the wind, never getting within any distance of the waves.
On the hike/walk down, we passed an old bunker. A relic from this coast’s past, fear of World War II realities that never came close to our shores.
Back down on the beach, we got a real sense of what the surfers were up against- crashing waves and water temperature that made me squeal when my toes got wet. Still, I was running around a beach, barefoot, in the middle of winter. Win.
While taking off our shoes on a log that served as a bench, a woman sat down beside us. She held out her hand. In her palm she held a dozen white small objects that looked like fragments of shells. ”Did you know that there are shark teeth all over the beach?” She asked. “Centuries ago there were so many sharks in this area. Now you can find their teeth all over the beach. See, they’re very worn down by the surf.” My mother and I listened to her claim, thanking her for sharing her knowledge. We walked away wondering at its validity. As we waled the beach we found many shells that sure, resembled shark teeth. But they also resembled broken shells. The Shark Tooth Lady resembled a sane individual. But she also might have also been batty. Jury is still out on both.
If you’re under a blanket in your cold apartment hating me right now, I don’t blame you. But let me attempt alleviate some jealousy. San Francisco beaches are not warm. Remember, it’s 48º today! It may look sunny, but the air was colder than the water. The wind was brisk and every surfer had high-tech gear. It ain’t SoCal. Up north beach attire is jeans, long sleeved shirt, sweater, windbreaker, and shoes you can walk it. Not much compared to what I’ll be wearing outside in NYC tomorrow, but still not what you might think of when you think beach.
We left Rodeo Beach at 5PM, just as the sun was setting. In NYC, it is pitch dark at 5PM. That extra hour is something I will really miss.
If you ever visit San Francisco, I HIGHLY recommend you take the 76x bus on a sunny weekend and visit Rodeo Beach. But if this post hasn’t convinced you, nothing will! Check out the route:
Contrast these pictures to the view from the window as my plane descends to my connecting flight in Milwaukee. The landscape below looks like a comforter- square, white plots of land divided by roads and fences. The uniformly bare trees, the landscape void of any color save the bright blue sky all become clearer as the plane nears the runway and I think to myself, “Fool! FOOL! WHY did you leave?”
Because I love New York. Thank god I don’t live in Milwaukee.