San Francisco has a mysterious hold on me, not to discount the fact that I was born there, but I only lived there for a short time with my mother and grandmother before my father returned from the Pacific during WWII
It’s almost hypnotic, a siren’s call that reaches out to me on a regular basis and lures me back to the sea and the steep hills, the parks and churches, Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Mary’s in Chinatown. I feel at home there and roam the streets of downtown and North Beach as well as the SF Opera districts. The people are hardy walkers and although there is the usual heavy traffic of most cities, the sidewalks are also filled most times of day and night with people.
On one of my visits I unknowingly arrived in time for the “Alternative Lifestyles Convention”. I had chosen a hotel right in the middle of the area selected for the celebration because of it’s proximity to the URMIA Conference hotel which was pricey and your typical chain hotel, all glitz and polish. I preferred the small boutique hotels of the city and the one I selected offered morning coffee, rolls and fruit as well as Port and savories in the evening.
At check-in I inquired about exercise facilities mentioned online when I made the reservation and was told they were across the street at a gym the hotel had made arrangements with. When I finished my workout the next morning and the elevator opened for me ti return to the street level I stood there transfixed by the view of bare male buttocks wrapped with a black leather jock strap. His partner led him out of the elevator with a leash that was attached to a studded collar around his neck. A black leather vest similarly studded was the only other item of clothing on his tall, muscular body.
Although I’m certainly not naive about the world and homosexuality, this was the first time I had been confronted up close and personal with the reality of it. I was stunned. I returned to my room to digest what I’d seen and soon decided not to let the encounter concern me but to ask the front desk clerk about it. That’s when I discovered what I’d gotten myself into and that I was right in the heart of it! Ha!
Every visit to the city has been marked by an exciting adventure or discovery, most not quite as breath taking as that one. On my last visit I took the ferry across the bay to Sausalito an discovered a plethora of wonderful and inexpensive shops. On another occasion I spent most of my time in North Beach and checked out the places the writers like Kerouac hung out and the magnificent cathedral as well a 100 year old Italian restaurant that served incredible gnocchi and had an amazing house red wine.
On another occasion my dear friend Joan treated me to a production of The Wiz at the opera house. There is nothing like the experience of live theater with the presence and reactions of the audience. After the show Joan and I took a long walk around the neighborhood and drank in all the sights of old buildings reminiscent of the city’s beginnings. We peered in windows of closed shops and I promised myself a return visit.
Joan and I took a docent led walking tour of the multi-million dollar homes of Pacific Heights on one of my trips. The view of the bay and marina from that vantage point is the best the city has to offer, in my opinion and the homes were enormous, most over 10,000 square feet. That day we decided to walk down through chinatown and visit the fortune cookie factory that was equipped with a machine the flattened the dough that was fed into it, cut it into discs, inserted the fortune and then folded the cookie around it and dropped it onto the pan to be baked. It was a machine that looked like cast iron with a couple of dozen arms that radiated out from the center and rotated constantly.
i’ve also also taken whale watching tours out into the bay and listened to the juvenile sea lions barking playfully in the morning to each other. Being out on the water gives a different perspective of the city with it’s high rise buildings in the financial district and roof top gardens with brilliant flowers.
In spite of all the adventures and things to see and do I mostly like the way I feel when I’m there, energized, alive, curious, engaged, loving the cool fresh sea air on my face and in my nose. If there is any truth to past lives or DNA connection this place certainly has an attachment for me, maybe it’s just my being or soul energy that’s in sync with the vibrations here. I have no idea what it is, it just is!