Sunday, November 20, 2011
Looking Back, Looking Forward
Seventeen months ago, I moved to San Francisco. Every day when I look out my wall of windows at the Pacific Ocean, the entrance to San Francisco Bay, the Marin headlands, Golden Gate Park and the tops of both towers of the most famous bridge in the world, I am overcome with joy that I live here.
Everything is here: Extraordinary natural beauty, pounding waves accessible by bus, gusty winds that pull the curl from my hair, striking architecture, scenic views in unexpected spots, much soul-satisfying theater, a ballpark with views of container ships in transit, world-class museums, quirky galleries, a dozen or more independent book stores, restaurants offering savory dishes at all prices, two coffee shops per block, adorable boutiques, upscale consignment stores and yes, a massive Macy’s with a plus-size department that can take an hour or more to scour.
Everything is here: A mass transit system that takes me anywhere I want to go (as long as I plan in advance) and guarantees colorful characters on almost every ride. On the bus to the dentist two weeks ago, I sat across from a woman reading her AARP magazine – aloud. It was like listening to a book on tape, but she also interjected comments. I’ve seen people get on buses with surfboards, bulky strollers and three bags bulging with balloon animals. I’ve shared a bus with 18 fifth grade boys – we talked baseball. Once, a woman boarded with a wooden kitchen chair. She placed the chair next to her seat, right in the aisle.
Everything is here: A refreshing "live and let live" attitude that pervades every neighborhood, allowing for people in costume, people in the buff and everyone else as well. I have met kind and giving people of all sorts, people who wave at me, call me by name and ask me what’s up. The man who owns the insurance company on the corner (and Earl, the wonderful dog who works there) even offered to go with me to the vet the day I had to say goodbye to my cat. I always look forward to encounters with a gifted artist friend in Bolinas, my massage therapist, my hair stylist, the receptionists at my gym, the grocer in Cole Valley, the barista at Café Reverie and the owner of the auto body shop. My neighbors in my building are wonderful people, people who last night got a delivery from the Pumpkin Bread Fairy – and yes, I made a loaf for my kind landlord as well.
Everything is here: Especially my beloved son and daughter-in-law! I moved here to be closer to Patricia and Joel, and that was exactly the right thing to do at exactly the right time. As a bonus, I got a whole new family! Susan (Patricia’s mom) and I have become great friends. I always look forward to seeing Michael and Martia (P’s brother and sister-in-law) and their smart, adorable daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth. Marylou and Mario (Martia’s parents) also have warmly welcomed me into the family circle, and I have enjoyed getting to know Marylou’s sisters and their children.
Wait – not quite everything is here. My dearest friends are not here.
Susan generously shares her friends, and I am grateful for that. It’s been great fun getting to know Denise (see you at Christmas and at Full Moon Cocktails in January!) and all the others. At get-togethers, we swap the stories women of a certain age all tell, we explore what else we have in common – and always, we laugh.
Still, after 17 months in San Francisco, I miss my friends. Some of them have come to visit, among them Gerry, Tom, Judy, Scott, Beth, Gail, Susan, Denny, Deb, Bill, Ken, Nancy, Laurie, Karen, Pat, Charlie, Michael, Donna and Doug. When Cheri came to visit her son and daughter-in-law, we reconnected after decades of minimal contact – but then, it’s easy to enjoy hanging out with someone you met when you were 12 and roomed with in college. Other friends plan to visit soon -- or say they will -- and I look forward to that.
We bridge the distance between us with Skype, Facebook, email, on-line Scrabble games and occasional cards. Clearly, no matter how far apart we are, we still feel close, in touch, there for moral support or to share a good laugh. It’s not the same as being together in person, but all these wonderful people (you know who you are) love me still and include me in their circle of friends. I am grateful for that.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!