Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

Being back in San Francisco, I have to admit, hasn’t felt the same.

After returning from (a scant) 2 weeks in Asia, something hasn’t been right. The city feels flatter, my enthusiasm has waned, and I crave change. I have dreams of pulling up roots and relocating; disconnecting from my life and turning hermit; overturning everything I know for something I don’t. I want stimulation and beauty and adventure and excitement and challenge and intrigue and culture.

I have wanderlust. I am afflicted with one of the most pervasive ills of my generation: a constant thirst for New.

* * *

My cousin visited me in San Francisco today, lingering in town post-Mother’s Day. He lives in New Mexico in a town of about 12,000 and 50 miles to the nearest town. He remarked as we drove over the bay bridge that he could see more cars in one blink than he could in an hour back home. I asked him what he’d like to do for the few hours we had before he headed back to my aunt’s in Vallejo. “Whatever’s clever,” he remarked.

So I took him to the mission to get drunk in Dolores Park. This was apparently the right thing to do.

He’s a people watcher, so reclining in the afternoon sun and gawking at a city where, as he put it, “anything goes” filled him with such enthusiasm that he was nearly skipping away as we said good-bye — and he’s not the skipping sort of guy. He is wearing nearly the same costume every time I see him: an XL white Hanes cotton T-shirt, baggy shorts, a baseball cap with some sports team emblem I’m sure I should recognize, and a buzz cut that renders his neck a tint redder, emphasized by his strawberry-blonde hair. He’s the kind of guy I would normally write off as a beer-guzzling, sport-watching lunk head. Being my cousin, however, I’ve had to actually give the guy a listen –

And so I was rather impressed when he pointed to a flaming-red gentleman parading down Dolores Street in nothing but groin-hugging red running shorts and remarked, “that’s pimp. I mean, I don’t really care if that guy is gay or not, that takes some balls to wear… that’s definitely pimp.”

We continued to watch people for hours, people I normally wouldn’t take notice of, kinds of people that populate my awareness daily — tattoo-marked emo punks, laid back bike messengers, folksy mission chicks or hipster parents — all becoming prime visual real estate to take in, assess, analyze, judge, admire, enjoy. Suddenly I was telling my cousin about all of the different neighborhoods I frequent, the kinds of people I interact with, the events and opportunities and culture and offerings of San Francisco. And I had no choice but to fall back in love with the city.

It was a lesson I had learned before — that perspective, not circumstance, dictates happiness.

The first time I learned it was only after moving to San Diego in the midst of a depression, floundering, and having to move back in with my parents, worse than when I started and with tail between my legs. This time it only took an outsiders eyes to remind me of what I saw daily: stimulation and beauty and adventure and excitement and challenge and intrigue and culture.

As we said goodbye, my cousin thanked me for the visit. We aren’t terribly close, and don’t hang out much aside from the family get-togethers, but he said he would certainly take me up on my offer to house him for a weekend in the future. Beaming, he thanked me again with hug — and he’s not a hugging kind of guy. As he rounded the corner and galumphed down the stairs of my building, I silently thanked him back.

§196 · May 14, 2006 · San Francisco glory · · [Print]

2 Comments to “Visitor”

  1. Grace says:

    You wrote: It was a lesson I had learned before — that perspective, not circumstance, dictates happiness.

    Beautifully said.

  2. I'm keeping score says:

    That’s what I’m talking about. Thanks for writing.

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