Monday, June 19, 2006

some days you feel ahead

Every once in a while, I get homesick for the east coast, or for my family, or for a sense of familiarity. This is my city, indeed, but I still feel that, on some level, very few people know me here. This is because I have moved here as an adult, I believe. When you come to a place more or less fully-formed, there is a bit less angst and growth, at least of the variety that is exposed to your friends. I tend to be a little intolerant of people who are around my age and still have no self-awareness, because, by now, you should have figured most of that sh*t out.

The inner demons, of course, remain, because they never really go away. But while some of my friends are willing to bring their demons out for a good group flogging, I am less likely to do that. I somehow believe I can swallow my demons, and that the pH of my stomach will simply corrode them away. If I can just keep them inside for long enough, the caustic burn will break them to pieces.

But all of this is misdirection, because I did not feel in the least bit homesick this weekend. In part inspired by Saheli's call to arms, in part compelled by the mindblowing weather in San Francisco this weekend, but most of all due to an inner war cry, I could not stop putting one foot in front of another this weekend. I have not been hiking in ages because of The Goal. Even though it takes a lot longer than it does with most athletic people, my body reaches some tipping point and always bursts forth with the same battle call: get off your a$$, b*tch!?!

On Friday, I met MG in Cole Valley, and I walked there the way I usually drive there. This may seem a statement of the obvious, but walkers in San Francisco tend to think of routes topographically. Many times I will stray from the most direct route a block or two in order to avoid a heartstopping hill. But I was in no mood to wuss out on Friday. On Saturday, I walked to Potrero Hill to meet maisnon for dinner. And then on Sunday, SP returned from her envy-inducing vacation and we strolled about aimlessly, eventually winding up where you must if you are walking around on a good day in my neighborhood: Mitchell's.

It is hard to convince me that you really have an appreciation for a city unless you have spent time really walking its streets. Exploring a neighborhood does not suffice. You have to take a long walk, the kind where you witness a transition from one part of the city to the next. If you do this, and you are a city person, and this is your city, I guarantee that you will fall in deep, unabashed love. On Friday, coming down 17th Street, the same street I had summited (and yes, that is the word I'm using for climbing to the top of 17th Street) earlier that evening, the city seemed to spread out before me for a moment. On Saturday, after trudging through the hot, hot heat of the Mission and passing through some neighborhoods that are, let's say, low on charm factor, I encountered a spiraling walkway at the top of 18th Street that turned into an overpass above the 101. That was a mixture of vertigo and amazement. On Sunday, upon marveling at the number of Peruvian restaurants we encountered as we went up on Mission, SP and I turned our eyes slightly upward, and we saw Bernal Heights dotting the hills.

Sometimes, I really am a complete simpleton, because these walks were enough to make me feel giddy. Sometimes, I really wonder who can ever compete with this. I don't know if I am in love with myself, or the world, or my place in this world. I just know that this is what it means, more than anything else, for me, to live.

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