Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hills and Lights

A bumpy start into California: I was definitely required to stop at a California border guard station, open my trunk and hand over my clementines before entering the state. Tried to tell the bastard that I bought them at Trader Joe's and that if the ones I had in my car had pests on them, they were undoubtedly already everywhere else in the state, but to no avail. Fucking eco-friendly Gestapo.

I had set up an account on couchsurfing.org and found a host gracious enough to put up his couch for me to sleep on for four nights in the heart of the Castro district. I couldn't believe my luck!

San Francisco is one of many cities around the world with the claim to have been originally built on seven hills. In that regard, it joins the ranks of Rome, Athens, Jerusalem, Mecca, Prague and (even) St. Paul.

I was surprised at how quickly I became accustomed to an environment that had me walking vertically upwards two thirds of the day, but I'm confident I could crush a child's skull in between my calves at this point and pro.......

Hang on a second. I definitely just rediscovered a short note that I had typed up in a coffee shop a few days ago after getting hopelessly lost and walking around for eight hours in the heart of the city.
I think it probably does a better job of summing up my experience than any regularly scheduled longwinded, gushing, verbose blog post.

...Also, fair warning: substance(s) may have been involved in the creation of this piece. Enjoy!

It was seen as a wonder on a hill. Seven hills, originally. San Francisco.

The city was beautiful and mysterious. She had become complicated by not just age and glamour but the nagging feeling in most of her inhabitants that she had many other lovers than just him or herself.

Again, you have to understand that I didn’t come to San Francisco to visit. I came to her to pretend, instead. I wanted to know what it was like to be a San Franciscan. That’s why I wander the streets and get lost in amongst the burrows and smoke in the park and lay on the hills. I wanted more a glimpse of the life being lived here than to see a tourist attraction.

I think I was looking more for a long romance than a quick fuck.

I had this conversation with my host while I was here. What counts as where you live, he asked. If I am in Germany and I travel to stay in San Francisco for three months, in which would you tell people you lived? The answer, I had responded, is the feeling of the traveler. Do you feel more at home in your native city or in your current? You’re always living at home, I continued, whether you’re spending three months or your life there. I don’t know that everyone finds their home, but there’s certainly no confusion in your head as to where you live if you do find it.

Visitors want a kiss, lovers want the rest. It’s easy to tell who the outsiders are but it isn’t always especially easy to tell which hipster college student or elderly Asian textile store owner is really living in their hometown or is just traveling through. The real lovers and those who only can only hope and pretend are so oftentimes so close in appearance and demeanor. Both the beauty and grief of the situation is that no one ever truly knows whether anyone else they pass on the street is actually having an affair with the city or just dreaming that they are.

Hm. Ever had a waking dream, where reality and surreality blend and swirl together for seconds or minutes at a time? I was left in that state for my entire four day venture. I think, for this particular city, my memories should remain my own =)


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