Monday, December 16, 2013

The magic of the City in one week

As I sit here watching the sun set
in Sunset
It is hard to believe the pleasure this trip has been
I came in with no real plans
No expectations
Just hope and happiness
To return to what I call my homeland
The Bay Area.
Long ago, I had said I did not want to live in San Francisco,
"The City," as they say,
For it was too crowded, too busy, too expensive.
Too hilly, too too too too much.
But now, after having spent a week here,
Generously guided by my host,
I have fallen under the San Franciscan charm.
West of the tourist area of San Francisco,
West of Union, Pier 39, SOMA,
Lies Sunset, Golden Gate, Land's End, Twin Peaks,
Haight and Ashbury, UCSF Parnassus.
All of it beautiful and unique and bustling in its own charm,
Without the hectic feel of the east part of SF.
Little local shops, individual and unique
Yet fitting into the San Francisco culture all the same.
The shops: Tibetan, vintage, boutique, hippie, retro, random, bizarre.
The food: classy, one-of-a-kind, fresh, local genius, diverse.
Oh, the food! What can I say?
What can I do to engulf all the edible beauty before me?
The carefully constructed platters, pieces, pastries.
A tender, careful eye to ingredient selection.
Artistry and culinary expertise in the composition.
Walk down Irving Street and oggle
At the Chinese, Vietnamese, Eritrean, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean restaurants;
At the adorable little Japanese shop, the Posh Bagel shop that sells cronuts,
A store dedicated to vacuums, to glasses, to tarts.
Everything just being there beckons to you,
Come, experience what I have to offer,
But one week is not enough to see it all.

What I did in these past few days are many, but they will forever be held lovingly within my memory:
The view of the City from Twin Peaks at night
The hike up to and view from Land's End
Reindeer and butterflies and more at the California Academy of the Sciences
The ramen with the Japanese breaded fried egg at Ikazaya Sozai
Swing dancing at 9:20 social with my old instructor/buddy
Walking around Haight, browsing the vintage shops and sampling artisan chocolate
The dry-fried chicken wings at San Tung
Touring Genentech in South San Francisco
Watching soccer in the 37 degree weather in San Jose at night and witnessing a short tussle
Seeing all the unique trees decorated by organizations at Christmas in the Park, San Jose

Then there was the return to my old home

How I have missed you, Berkeley.
Your cracked and hilly streets,
The vagabonds and hobos and smell of weed down those same streets
Students going about their own business, worried about classes,
About relationships, about organizations.
New shops popped up, old shops still there, others gone, maybe replaced.
Holiday craft street fair, showcasing local unique gifts
Things always bustling, always exciting
Music, people chatting.
Walk, continue walking, through the campus, up the hills.
Past the beautiful buildings, colors not just brown, different.
Big grassy Memorial Glade.
People with dogs and frisbees, the Campanile rings its bells in the background.
The breeze plus the sun combine into the best of feelings.
If happy had a recipe, this was it.
The feel of walking all over again, instead of driving everywhere,
Invigorating, healthy.
Visit old friends, blend in with the students,
Sit on the steps of Sproul, munch on a sandwich,
People watch.
Man with milk crate heralding some speech or dialogue or opinions.
Shorter man break dancing
Girl asks directions to architecture building
Lots of Asians, I am surprised by Caucasians.
Leave, wander, buy Cal gear,
Because now after being in the middle of nowhere Texas for a while
I appreciate what I had and left.
Cal, Berkeley, a Bear: this is who I am and who I will always be
I am proud to be a Cal Bear,
Proud to bleed Blue and Gold.

Better yet, proud to be a Californian,
Spurred on by the collective progressive mindset,
To be the leaders in the green movement, sustainable, active, proactive.
Integrate it into all aspects of life.
So what, not every man is a Southern gentleman,
There is not cheap BBQ everywhere,
and there are a lot of more homeless and a lot less free parking,
But this is the exciting life, where one can explore everything one can be.
This is why I shall return to you, Bay Area, California,
I will come back and embrace you with all my heart,
Because you and I are one.

It is..

Tomorrow, I say good bye to the things that captured my heart.
Good bye, and I hope we reunite again.
May fate bring us together in the future,
The future, uncertain but always promising...

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