Since I cannot go to Paris at present, yesterday I decided to go to San Francisco and pretend I was somewhere else. (Excuse my photo effects, please. I’m experimenting with an Android app called Vignette and possibly going a little overboard with it. But it’s so fun!)
I got up early (for me) and took the exotic Bay Area transit system to Civic Center.
I went to the Asian Art Museum to see the Maharaja exhibit and wandered around looking at the sparkly stuff, and also this thing.
I like walking around a museum alone because I don’t feel pressure to read any of the info that doesn’t interest me or look at the stuff which doesn’t speak to me. Basically, if it wasn’t encrusted in rubies or decorated with peacock feathers, I gave it a miss. However, it got kind of lonely. I find I like having someone with me; I like to drag a friend to the next gem-filled glass case and show it off as if I’d just mined those stones myself. So before long I was off again.
This statue had a seagull on its head, which unfortunately could not be captured because a) I can’t figure out how to zoom in on stuff with my phone and b) I was too excited about making this photo look worse with my app to remember why I took it in the first place. But trust me, that bird is there. And it is super funny.
For my next trick, I took a train to the Mission, where I had planned to have lunch at Tartine (for fancy Parisian-type coffee and baked goods!) and then wander around a bunch of stores I’d never been to. But as soon as I got to the Mission, I realized my plan was doomed. What I love about being in a foreign city is its foreignness, and there is nothing foreign to me about SF. Even streets and buildings and murals I’ve never seen still resonate with San Franciscity; it’s a city that’s so thoroughly itself, you can’t make it stand in for anything else. (Also true for Paris, by the way. This plan was a bust from the start.)
I can hear someone speak anywhere in SF and know instantly that they are of my town. For example: “So when do I get that demo, dawg?” -One white guy to another.
The cuisine is immediately recognizable as SF-made. For example: “It’s an abomination, but it’s delicious.” -A dude I pass sums up the entirety of SF food, and if you disagree, I have three words: bacon ice cream.
Annnd the rule of threes suggests that I need another quote, but I’ve got nothing.
The worst thing was, while everything around me was utterly familiar, none of it feels like home anymore. So I hopped on a train and came back to Alameda, and as soon as I got here I felt like I was home again. But also I kept noticing, as I usually do here, all the little side streets and cafes and canals and stuff that I haven’t explored yet. You guys, I totally live in a foreign city! Well, okay, a foreign town. And it is pretty great here.
So, to sum up, European adventure: fail. But life choice FTW.
Truly, there is no place like home.
(Isn’t it great how I was able to encapsulate my experiences into a tidy life lesson? I am the Punky Brewster of Alameda. But if anyone wants to give me a free plane ticket to London or Paris or something, I would be happy to be the Punky Brewster of the foreign city of your choice as well, I’m just sayin’.)