Saturday, June 26, 2010

All in a Week's Work

Last Saturday morning, I woke up as a new resident of San Francisco for the first time. I had a big suitcase (Gail made me go to Marshall’s to buy it the night before I left St. Louis, as my traveling gear just did not fit in my modest-sized suitcase – and she was right), a backpack on wheels (again, thanks to Gail) and my purse. And, of course, Maggie, plus her second-favorite blanket, a small bag of toys and a cotton fish on a string tied to a pole.

Today, one week later, I have an outstanding apartment in the Twin Peaks neighborhood, four sets of keys for it, a kitchen cart to hold a microwave oven, a microwave oven, a kitchen trash can, three new bottles of cleaning supplies (movers won’t store and move cleaning supplies), two big plastic bins for storage, a sink strainer, a bathtub plug, a shower caddy and half a dozen new hangers.

I also have an iPhone! I’m learning my way around it. Joel and Patricia want to give me their dining table (they need a bigger one), some smaller plastic bins and perhaps a wicker étagère for my kitchen, and then all I will need in the way of furniture is a large bookcase. Today I hope to buy a shower curtain and some sheer drapery panels for the bedroom. (I’m feeling Lace Curtain Irish…)

My car also lives here now, parked on the street, and so far so good. Judy and Scott arrived on Monday evening after taking the scenic route to San Francisco in my Subaru though Sedona, Santa Fe, Las Vegas and downtown Oakland. We had a great time on my birthday on Tuesday, which ended with a festive dinner when Susan joined us. (Patricia was out of town on business again.) The Guerreros also brought me another suitcase and laundry basket filled with clothes and Maggie’s favorite blanket and her bed, which is now in a chair in Susan’s living room that Maggie chose as her favorite. (Susan, in case you have forgotten, is Patricia’s mother, a warm-hearted and generous person and a wonderful woman.) Maggie and I also spend time together sitting in the sun room, watching birds in Susan’s yard.

I’ve been working my way through the list of people and agencies who need to know my new address and phone number. I opened a bank account. I applied for a bus pass, and then rode five one morning in 90 minutes, to see how that works and where they go. A bus that stops right outside my apartment will take me to the gym or to Patricia and Joel’s house. I’ve toured two fitness centers, and hope to join the small one sooner rather than later because not working out has made me crunchy and stiff.

Driving in San Francisco, I have discovered, looks scarier than it is. Everyone is in a hurry and many streets are thick with traffic. Once I got going, I did fine, but the initial adventure did not start out well. First, I could not lock Joel’s front door from the outside. It’s tricky, and I struggled – but if I can’t lock the door, I can’t leave. Finally I got in the car and started to assemble the GPS. I had everything but the cable. Went back inside, searched high and low three times, and couldn’t find it. Joel said he might have one, so I handed him my GPS – and it was broken. I don’t know how it happened or when, but it is just past warranty. Wrote down directions on paper and got back in the car.

Took a deep breath and opened a bottle of sparkling lime-flavored water I had grabbed from the fridge – and it exploded, fizzing all over me. I started laughing. What else was there to do? As I dried my shirt with my jacket, I recalled the Christmas night when Scott brought a tray of sliced filet mignon, hot off the grill, into the dining room to show those of us seated at the table. Smiling proudly, he held up the tray. We applauded. Then the tray tipped and the steak slid onto a dining room chair. Scott burst out laughing, a perfect response. In the car, I laughed some more and headed off to the hardware store.

A link to home arrived yesterday – a beautiful “Bon Voyage” book that Gerry and Tom assembled with pictures from the party they had for me, pictures of other friends in St. Louis (and G in Philadelphia) and pictures of family in San Francisco. What a wonderful gift! Be sure to ask to see it when you visit.

Yesterday I meandered around the Lower Haight (and no, I did not try to pressure people into reading this blog), popping into shops and peering into windows of others. I talked to the guy who owns Mickey’s Monkey, a secondhand furniture store. I bought some note cards at Merch, a tiny gift shop with cool stuff, including a padded canvas laptop bag with the stenciled image on the front of an old typewriter. (Loved it, but it was $55, so I left it there.) Went to the Three Twins ice cream shop, where I bought two pints for the house (lime sorbet and chocolate and peanut butter ice cream) and a single scoop of Harvey Milk and Coffee. Then I walked back to Patricia and Joel’s house.

I can do this! Here is what Amelia Earhart said:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. You can do anything you decide to do.”

For now, I’ve decided to go buy a shower curtain.


  1. Pat, your new I-Phone has GPS capabilities thru the map app that came with it. I have also downloaded a Tom Tom app for $39.00 that is better than my current GPS. Joel will make you a techie before you know it.

  2. Hey Patricia,

    I read your letter to the editor in the Oprah Magazine's August issue. I applaud you for taking this journey.

    I am from GA and I visited San Franciso in April with a friend to celebrate her 50th birthday.

    I fell in love with the city. My aunt who is 90 years old and lives in the city of SF said she had a room in her apartment if I wanted to move there.

    Well, I am going to take a 3 week vacation at the end of the year to stay with her, meet with some job placement agengcies and determine if I really want to make the move cross country.

    I am 52 years old and don't want to leave this earth without the experience of living in a different city. I have lived in GA 30 years and so ready for a change.

    I would like to meet you for coffee or take you to lunch while I am in SF.

    God Bless,