Accidental Ode to San Francisco

I love the elm trees on Folsom Street, and the way their leaves turn a fluorescent green as they capture the early morning light.

The other day I hiked up Bernal Heights with a friend and, until she pointed them out, I had never thought to look at those trees from above:

One of my favorite things about San Francisco is all the places you can view the city from above; how you can simultaneously be in it and feel so far from it; how you can walk through the bustling streets of downtown Mission and a few minutes later look down at the people and chaos from the quiet of a hillside trail.

This morning, as I ascend Bernal Heights…

I am overdressed in this Henley (where did the word Henley come from, anyway?). I dressed for an overcast walk but of course now I’m sweating and I’m going to ruin this nice white shirt with pit stains. The upper lip sweat collecting beneath my mask reminds me of humid summers spent on the East Coast.

San Bruno Mountain looks beautiful this morning, a perfect ridge rising behind the colored rows of houses.

I love San Francisco. As people escape to the mountains, to lakes, to other coasts and other cities, I am reminded of everything I love about San Francisco: the way different neighborhoods feel like different worlds, the bright colors and contrasts, the people and the farmers’ markets, the endless plants and birds and trees, the cloudless blue skies and romantic foggy days, the hidden parks and stairways.

I’m going to miss this city when Thomas and I moved to Berkeley. I’m excited for change – we’ve been living in the same place since I graduated from school four years ago (?!?!?!) – but every year I’ve fallen more in love with San Francisco. And, even after four years, it still has corners and secrets I have yet to discover.

I forgot how much my thighs chafe when I run. If I’ve learned anything from biking, it’s that pre-exercise Vaseline can only help.

On my way to Mt. Davidson I pass a Little Free Library and pick up a book I’ve been wanting to read. I take a picture of my location so I remember to bring one back.

Also on the shelf are some of the books I loved as a child: Gary Paulsen’s The Island and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door. I think back to elementary school, when my parents would turn my light off at bedtime and I would use a little red light-up “Hot Wheels” toy that I got in a McDonald’s Happy Meal to light the pages of my book as I read late into the night.

The book’s a hardcover, though, so I’m looking forward to a month’s worth of “upper body strength” as I carry it for the rest of my jog.

Mt. Davidson is green and lush and beautiful after days of fog and rain. Something about the morning light and the moss and vines and the eucalyptus trees always makes me feel like I’m in a fairy tale and that Tinker Bell is hidden somewhere behind a branch.

On days like these I never want to go home. On days like these I want to keep walking, further, deeper, longer, each step bringing me closer to myself and to the soul of San Francisco.

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