Not exactly what I’d call a beach, I thought. Growing up in Florida had its disadvantages, but one of the stellar pluses was the white, soft sandy beaches I frequented all my life. I’ve seen many other beaches outside of Florida, or what people refer to as a beach; this was one of them, and my beach snobbery was in full effect. The firm, packed sand, brown in hue; the fields of sticks and driftwood, albeit gorgeous, replaced the fields of shells often found halfway up Clearwater Beach back home; and not to mention it was a gorgeous day but the air (and sand!) were cool, leaving the beach empty spare a few brave souls and their dogs. And I was the only idiot who took off his shoes (in my defense, I was wearing my beloved bedazzled Steve Madden slippers which would not have taken to the sand well!).
These holier-than-thou thoughts on beach conditions did not last for long, however, as my attention was diverted by an array of other visual beauties. To give you an idea of what I was witnessing… well, Tony Bennett wasn’t lying when his voice soared into the line “Your golden sun will shine for me…” Nor was Judy Garland, as she sang “but the only bridge, that’s a real ‘gone’ bridge – is the Bridge, across the bay…” These two crooners echoed across my brain as I stood one cool, blustery Sunday evening on the shores of Crissy Field overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the sinuous mountains behind it. The sun, soon to be set, set forth the most gorgeous golden blanket of light across the city. Although this light – from behind the bridge- darkened the famous bright orange-red hue a bit, it certainly gave life to the name “Golden Gate.” Turning around I saw the skyline of San Francisco – growing taller with new buildings, mind you- lit up with this golden hue: the light reflecting all the way back to me and making me squint. Bikers had whizzed by me as a blindly walked into the hazy, amber light trying to reach the beach.
I’m glad I had made the trek. I had missed the sound of waves lapping up against the shore, and seagulls sqwaking above. Dogs ran up and down the beach, their humans meandering behind, and I sat there on some driftwood taking it all in.
California certainly is someplace – and something – else. Prior to arriving to San Francisco, I had a brief visit to Los Angeles for the annual health club conference. I slipped into short sleeves faster than you could say “sun.” While it wasn’t terribly warm, I had missed the sun and its unforgiving tendencies in the lower latitudes, and I was determined I return to New York with a glow! Los Angeles, however, reminds me of Florida and everything Florida wishes it could be. Aside from mountains, it has everything else: rampant homelessness, post-modern skyscrapers rising abruptly from the street next to abandoned theatres, palm trees, bad drivers and stupid traffic. Just swap Florida’s collards for kale, and voila. So when planning the trip for work, I had the idea that since I was nearby, I would finally visit the city everyone has told me to go to, San Francisco.
To summarize, a bit humourously, my overall feelings: Fuck, these hills are NO joke. I better have a great ass when I get back to New York. Look how gorgeous! The Castro- that’s it? I don’t care, I’ll take another Uber. I’ll walk another block to see if the hill gets any less steep. Should I really figure out this street car- or just take an uber? I should go outside, it’s gorgeous. Oh my god, the mountains! Sea lions? Why are there sea lions? Where the fuck can I sit down? I hope this crazy person doesn’t cross the street with me. …Yup, they did. Oy, I over did it. I’m being such a tourist. I wish those assholes were here to know I climbed those fucking stairs! Bet they couldn’t do that. Ohhh, look, the bridge! That was worth it.
Despite being enamoured with the hilly, splendid city and the rest of the vast state of California, I have to say, I felt very much a New Yorker. I walked too fast, I was impatient (despite telling myself I can slow down, “I’m on vacation!”) and I found myself wondering “what the fuck?” to some of the bullshit I overheard from resident Californians. But I am so much happier to have visited. I met some cool people, saw an old friend, enjoyed the wonderful weather, and saw a new corner of the world I had always wanted to see. I can definitely see myself returning to California – especially Northern California- for another visit. (Wine, anyone?!)
This trip only reaffirmed that I really do love to travel. I love exploring, meeting new people, photographing all the cool things, and most of all, taking in those gorgeous vistas.
// Crissy Field, San Francisco, CA. 12 March 2017