It has been nearly a week since Mark and I returned from six days in San Francisco. The extra-ordinary geography transformed me in much the same way that I imagine the original terrain, with its impossible hills, was slowly transformed into a languid and vital place to live and visit.
Whether we managed to find the places and the experiences we were predisposed to enjoy, or whether they mysteriously found us, the fact is that we were constantly in love with whatever the moment had presented to us, wherever we happened to be. It was as though the city prepared itself especially for us. A brief sketch of a few of these things reads like a list that might describe us:
-The little dog who greeted us as we first arrived at our B&B;
-Our sparse but cozy second-floor room next to a busy bar, whose muffled rumbles of voices and music lulled us to sleep at night;
-The couple who ran the place, one a retired architect and musician, the other a Russian art collector and film buff;
-The famous Castro movie theater around the corner that showed, for one night, a movie I have wanted to see all my life;
-The Italian tourists I met and befriended, who patiently allowed me to speak haltingly in their mother tongue;
-The Italian restaurants (especially the one right next door that projected Fellini films on its wall);
-A long-running musical-comedy revue that welcomed me with numbers from "Hair" and "Nine";
-Architecture of the residential homes and the commercial buildings that pleased me on a deep unspoken level, as if I belonged within those spaces;
-Macondray Lane, the inspiration for Armistead Maupin's Barbary Lane;
-City Lights Bookstore, whose atmosphere was effervescent with the spirits of Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsburg and Ken Kesey, and which had the best Film Book section anywhere;
-Harvey Milk's camera store, vacant now, conferring a blessing on us and a hearty welcome to enjoy it all;
-The ease of getting around without a car; and walking everywhere, with our camera at the ready;
-The best coffee I have ever had, anywhere;
-The flock of wild parrots of Telegraph Hill made famous in the book and documentary.... and the sea lions, squirrels, and many, many dogs....
What I realized is that, although I can no longer consider myself "young and impressionable", I still am at least "impressionable", and hope never to lose that trait, that openness to awe, to allow one's life to follow wherever beauty and compassion might lead it, tempered with wisdom, informed by history.
That gets harder with age....but it's a necessary ingredient in reinventing a life, changing an attitude, overcoming a flaw....
Plus...the usual re-views, of movies and music and theater, and the outpouring of heartfelt opinion on anything from animal shelters to gay rights, from political absurdity to healing humor.