I was thinking about my favourite city in the whole world last night.
A friend sent me a link to a video, and because I had to wait 'til morning to watch it (silly internet plan that gives me almost no evening downloads, and which I have to change),
the city must have slipped, singing, into my thoughts, to keep me company.
Where my parents met and got married.
Where I lived for two and a half years.
Where I met my husband and (a little further North and beside a beach), we got married too. With so much smiling and so many happy tears!
Where my son was born. (Ditto the tears. The smiling, and the crooning of jazz into his hours-old ears)
Where, Before Kids, I lived in Hayes Valley, and would walk to work, past the outskirts of the Tenderloin, past the nightclubs with their sidewalks getting hosed down, past the men and women sitting with their signs on the streets.
Where I would ride my bike up and down the hills, heading for the sea.
Where I would head to and through Golden Gate Park, sometimes ending by the water, sometimes ending on a bench in the Australian section of the Botanical Gardens.
Where I would ride my bike all the way to Golden Gate Bridge and over the water. The Bay bright all around.
Where I would head north or east on a clear day and hike the Marin hills, the Oakland hills, day after day, striding. The air was so pure, it seemed. In spring the hills would be carpeted with wildflowers.
Where I would sit in coffee shops and listen to people play guitar and talk. I kept my notebook close and wrote the words other people said. And what they wore, and how they looked and the smells and sights and sounds.
Where after work I'd walk over glass and chrome bridges, walk between buildings, through and through, to the nearest cinema. See something French or something sweet (or both), and afterwards? Drift back over a city now sprinkled with light. Suspended above cars rushing and twinkling, their back lights red like kisses.
Where I would browse the hundreds of book shops and listen to writers' talks. I saw Alice Walker in a church once, and I heard an Irishman argue with Jeanette Winterson in a hall. The words vibrated the walls.
Where my friends and I would trip the fog-slung streets and eat and drink and laugh and listen to music and talk 'til morning.
Where I met a boy and we walked through North Beach and ate pizza and he listened to me in a way that was beautiful and spoke about music and art and made me laugh and my insides tilt.
Where my son took his first breath.
My city of Becoming. Of Being. Of Beginnings. I love it so.
I finally got to see the video this morning!
It is a video of a man who recreated San Francisco in toothpicks. I have been to everywhere he made.
He dropped ping-pong balls into the structure and as each one
rolled past and through each landmark, through each dear space that sang of Place of Place of Place,
my past lit up, moment by precious moment.
And made me smile :)