Monday, July 25, 2011

part of my heart

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.

San Francisco.

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 :)


  1. PS: I actually love the whole Bay Area! All up, I lived there for 3 and a half years. We lived in Oakland after my son was born, and created new memories as a family of three across the Bay.

    Ah. Memory Lane. It's kind of lovely. But now, to get on with today! And This Moment. Which is shaping up to be quite lovely too :)

  2. My favourite of favourite cities toooo

  3. What a beautiful tribute to a gorgeous city!! You have such deep roots there, it's nice to learn more about you. The song "I left my heart in San Francisco" applies, yes? I have been once for a couple days, and it was so not long enough. Now i know I have to go back :). Looking forward to seeing the video :)

  4. It is funny that MJ mentioned that song. I too, lived in San Francisco for a little over 2 years. I moved there for a boy, broke up with said boy, and cried for weeks when I decided to move back home. The words to, "I left my heart in San Francisco" echoed through me all the time. But..I moved back to discover a little girl who stole my heart and made all yearnings for San Fran disappear. Funny how that all works out.

    I still love the city. My best friend moved there a little after I did and remains there. Kei and I are planning a trip there as soon as we can. I want to show her all the places you mentioned. San Fran is a magical city.

  5. Never been there. Or even California, for that matter. I'm going to San Diego in about 2 weeks and am really excited!

  6. I remember so badly wanting to kiss a girl I Hayes Valley that I thought that my insides would cave in if she said yes OR no. I remember playing my horn outside her window at in the middle of the night in hopes of an invite out of the dark dangers of the big city. I remember the incredible urgency in the strides of this beautiful girl with the unbelievably yummy Australian accent as she claimed the streets of SF for her own. That girl who would easily entice me to the most beautiful escarpment and ocean bordered places in the world (or anywhere else for that matter). That girl who would finally agree to a kiss.

  7. We live in the Bay Area now and can't imagine living anywhere else...well, except New York where I grew up. NY is where all of my memories are...childhood to adolescence to young adulthood. The Bay Area is where my new life began with my husband and child. I wished I had lived in SF when we first arrived so I could have experienced it more intimately. You write so beautifully, it reminds me of the book San Francisco edited by John Milller.

  8. I meant San Francisco Stories: Great Writers on the City edited by John Miller.

  9. MJ and Karen, I was thinking of that song too! But it hasn't the whole of my heart, seeing as I love it here (so much) as well. Hence my title! :) SF holds a truly precious part of my heart.

    'Chris,' thank you for being in SF, meeting my dad, marrying him, and having me. Very nicely done!

    Joyful Learner, thank you! I thought you might live in the Bay Area from some of your posts :) I will have to check out that book. It sounds like something I would love.

    Tracey, San Diego is lovely. I remember walking through lots of the city with my mum once. I love walking through cities (you probably guessed that already). Love soaking them in, feeling their energy—my senses all the way open.

    And Anonymous. That was beautiful, truly. I love you right back. And I'm very glad I kissed you :)

  10. I've never been to San Francisco but I have always wanted to go there. Actually Northern California has always appealed to me so much more than Southern, but my husband is from Southern California and we always end up there spending time with his family and have limited time to visit the Northern part.

    I love this post! I feel a little closer to you knowing about your time in the US.

  11. Lovely! I haven't been a huge amount of places in the world but San Fran is one of them and I really enjoyed it. My hubby's mother is from there, so we had a wonderful flying visit soaking in a few of the sights and spending time with family. I was always amused at how his grandparents would say they weren't from San Fran, they were from Marin County. It's all SF to me! ;D


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.