Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not missing city life

An evening out with my girlfriends in San Francisco. We're there to watch Eve's Elixir, a contemporary dance event featuring fusions of various traditional ethnic dance forms with a more modern aesthetic and influence. It's showing at Cowell Theater, at Fort Mason. We get lost looking for it, as there are no visible signs along the way. A surly ranger points us in the general direction, and at last we find the right area.

Park the car and hurry along because the show starts in ten minutes. I decide to leave my coat in the trunk because it seems mild enough. It's a decision I regret five minutes later as we pass between the old warehouses and towards the waterfront. The cold tears through the windtunnel of the buildings, and suddenly my warm scarf is not nearly warm enough.

There's a shivering line of well dressed people at the front of the theater, which looks to be an old warehouse that stretches out along a pier. We join in the teeth-chattering to pick up our tickets. After a while, I pull out my sketchbook, and though my fingers are numb, it's a good distraction from the discomfort to scribble a bit as we wait. Almost enough for me to forget the chill that slices through my skirts.

The odd thing about SF is that when you live there, you can't imagine ever wanting to live anyplace else. Nightlife, great restaurants at every corner interspersed with cafes, Golden Gate Park, colorful shopping neighborhoods....

Minor inconveniences are easy to dismiss when you're living in the midst of it. Basking in the golden haze of San Francisco fog that apparently creeps into your mind.

Driving's a pain. Parking once you get to your destination is worse. Monthly parking spot in Nob Hill? $300.00.
Cable cars...quintessential San Francisco. Fun for a visit. Try living along a cable car route that goes uphill. The driver must ring the bell to warn traffic at the coming intersection since the cable cars can't actually stop at any given spot. Every 15 minutes: rumblerumbleding-a-linga-dingdingdingdingDING!!!!
California weather's lovely! The city has it's own micro-climate though. Even in high summer, lugging around a winter coat because of unexpectedly cutting winds. October's really the only warm nice month. Never gets old to see tourists shivering in their shorts and t-shirts in June and wondering where there nearest overpriced souvenir sweatshirt vendor is.
Great dining, if you don't mind crowds.

At any rate, I'm remembering all the reasons I don't miss living there when Roberta asks me that very question. I answer with a very vehement negative.

At first I missed it terribly. I missed my Trattoria Contadina. I missed walking down to North Beach. I missed Golden Gate Park.

The week I was to move out from my apartment, I walked up the street to the top of Nob Hill, on my way home from a dance class. It was a rare warm day. Sky was still bright, not yet dusk. Powell St. stretched out before me, tumbling all the way down to the marina and into the bay. I crouched down on the sidewalk, catching my breath from the steep trek, stood there a while memorizing the sight, filing it away. Breathed in that always fresh-from-the-sea air.

The longer I live across the bay, the more the faerie glamour fades. I find I like living here in Oakland much more. I find places and things here that are more personable; I find the niches that strangely are at once grander and more intimate than anything a city can ever offer.

I can see the city now in the distance, across a glittering finger of water. Just a few miles away. Can touch it easily when I want to, or let it sit there like a jeweled band on the horizon.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely story. I thought I would miss the city when I left it 15 years ago. I moved from Dallas/Fort Worth to a very small Texas town. Thought I'd miss the night life and the variety. I discovered very shortly after I moved that my body and soul had been craving a simpler existence. I like to visit the city for shopping. But, I'm always glad to be home again. :)