From Peets coffeeshop, at 6 am, I saw the sun begin to rise. I power walked across the street. I followed the water. I moved quickly, wearing no tourist attire. (My I ❤ SF sweatshirt that I was forced to buy before getting on the boat the night before was stowed away in my suitcase) , carrying nothing that resembled a map, my face wearing an expression that made it look like I knew where I was going. The Ferry building majestic and tall in front of me, I veered to the right, by the boats themselves, and then further on to the back. Whenever I am in a new city, I must find the water.
A few teenage tourists had the same idea. We leaned on a table and watched as the sun began its journey up behind the bay bridge and the color lit up the sky. We took too many photos. No one spoke. People began their day all around us but we remained still.
It would be hard to live here and not come back to this exact spot every single day.
The night before my coworker and I took a sunset cruise of the San Francisco Bay to get video footage for our event. We packed in with numerous tourists and leaned against the railing as we passed by Alcatraz, underneath the the Golden Gate Bridge, the city lit up in the distance. The wind felt good. We took too many photos (but what really is too many photos). We walked back and forth from one side of the boat to the other as it rocked sharply underneath us trying to get the best view. Over here- no- over there. I held on tightly to the railing.
5 years ago I walked on this bridge in the pouring rain with my new fiance on my first cross country trip as an adult. Both of us in ponchos. My fiance, desperate to get out of the cold- the wet. Me, ecstatic with joy. At where I was, at who I was with. The cold, the rain, inconsequential. We raced on and off the bridge in mere minutes but the picture remains crystal clear in my mind.
Now, the sun finally dipped below the horizon, shooting out beams of pink and orange. I was filled with overwhelming joy.
Later, I am on the AT&T field with 200 of the most dynamic and powerful women in the country. I am here to work. There are fresh flowers on the table and a cookie with my face on it marking my place. At our table we exchange stories - each one of us there for a reason. Our polished personas becoming even more relaxed as the night went on, until finally for some they dissolved away entirely.
And later still, in a pink museum maze as we follow the powerful women through each hallway- capturing footage to remember this event. They jump in and out of a pool of fake ice cream sprinkles, and the walls are pink and the staff in is pink and everyone is smiling, smiling. There are no polished personas by the end of the night. It all feels too fantastical to be real.
I am walking all over the Castro district with my childhood best friend who I haven't seen in 7 years. At each turn I exclaim. "Oh, how amazing! That street art. And the restaurants by your home! And a grocery store just down the block!" We explore Dolores Park in the dusk, and now, my third time here, it feels familiar. At her home we make bok choy and vegetables for dinner. I meet her husband for the first time. We watch The Voice and cheer for our favorites. San Francisco feels like home.
There is so much more I want to do. So many more sunsets and sunrises. Hikes near the water I didn't take. The cliffs on the coast I didn't visit. Food I never got to try. Friends I did not get to see .
There is joy to finishing a trip, accomplishments and memories, photos I can look back and remember, stories I can retell. But also, there is a longing, a sadness. A saying goodbye to who you were when you were here. For the memories you didn't get to have, that lie in wait. For the next time. And there will be a next time.
Till then, goodbye, San Francisco.