I Found My Heart In San Francisco

29 03 2011

There are perceptions beyond experience, which indeed experiences may contribute to or help unearth, that marry you to a place. On an inhalation, the quality of the air dances with our quality of breath. When we step, our toes, heels, ankles, knees and hips take note, of the texture, of what the land gives back. Each moment spills with these metaphysical notes, and our bodies are supremely skilled at writing them down. (If only we had wireless printing for that!) The recitals are saved for when we are far away, when we are most open to relive the sensations, when the emotions have hibernated, the memories richly fermented amidst fresh and constant stimuli, but safely distinct, until their affect will be most potent. And we return to that place to drink for the first time.

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If ever there was a place I have experienced a collective consciousness, it would be San Francisco. All at once I feel like a brilliant doctor, computer wizard, inspired musician, visionary architect, gifted chef, champion athlete, erudite environmentalist, witty winemaker, and (not least of all) working writer.

My ties began very early, with conception. An arbitrary bond by itself, but strengthened by skinned knees on sidewalks and afternoon drives over bridges, mud from the hillsides caked to tennis shoes and daydreams beneath eucalyptus trees, train trips to ball games and Sunday morning dim sum.

All four seasons repeated. A reality accepted, but never fully explored. All these years later and I am still learning the neighborhoods. A city is not known once and forever, but every time you introduce yourself to it. And I have had the privilege many times. Each time it wakes me with all five senses: this is yours, you have been missing, you are finally here this time. It’s the cold plunge after a sauna, your skin tight and aware, your mind alive in the looking and the object looked at…be it a building, the bay, the fresh crab on your plate, the bubbles in your beer, a toothless man in blue flannel pajamas, a tight trio of healthy urbanistas walking towards you on the sidewalk. The best part of me comes alive, and it is the best I can do to savor every sip, and to bring to every moment the shock-joy of someone just emancipated from a prison.

The clarity of the air has something to do with it, or the mist that floats in it. The color of perennials when the sun strikes them, or brick buildings, t-shirts, cars, or long hair caught by the breeze. Or maybe it’s just the angle with which the earth turns to face that sun. The way clouds floating by change its strength, its color, shape, and focus. We are moved by this more than we can consciously recognize. We bend like the grass, and wave in the wind when we say goodbye.

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