I left my heart in San Francisco. It’s true—I visited the city in July, and my heart is still there now.
Prior to July, I’d been in SF twice. Once, last fall, I drove through on my way home from a concert in Mountain View. It was one a.m., and my friend Madeline was dozing off in the passenger seat. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and although we were layered under the fog and pitch black, and could hardly see the bridge, I was enthralled. The second time was this past June when I went for the afternoon with some friends for SF Pride. We were only there for a few hours before we needed to head home, but again, I was mesmerized by the city.
I returned to San Francisco in July, this time with my hometown friend Emma, and a clear schedule allowing us to stay for a couple of nights. Exploring the city only made me fall more in love with it. Granted, I’m speaking from the tourist’s perspective, but SF just has an undeniable energy—a gravitational pull. I can imagine myself arriving in the early 1900s and feeling the immensity of the city as it was even then. With the city rising above me, I feel dwarfed; I have the feeling of being part of something so much bigger than myself. It feels like a feat of a city.
When Emma and I arrived, we met up with a friend in Chinatown, and once we parted ways, Emma and I had no destination in mind. We could see water in front of us in one direction—water shimmering against the glare of the afternoon sun. So, we began walking toward the water, straight ahead. The allure of the water led us to Pier 39. But, before we reached the pier, we stumbled across Washington Square Park. The park was full of life, full of people and movement and energy. Overflowing with it. I quickly learned that one of my favorite—if not my absolute favorite—aspects of SF is the parks. Every park we came to was alive.
Everywhere I turned in SF, I felt amazed. Amazed by the architecture: the colorful Victorian homes juxtaposed with the ultra-modern skyscrapers; the geometrical firescapes winding down buildings like vines; the skyline cutting through the fog. I felt amazed by the sheer density of the city—countless neighborhoods with distinct personalities within a relatively small area. Amazed by the natural beauty—the bay, shining hills, and local flora—juxtaposed with the cityscape. It may sound cheesy, or naive, but I felt like I belonged there. Like I would be content doing nothing, but doing nothing in San Francisco.
Emma and I returned two months later. On this second venture to the city, we essentially did nothing. We put down roots in Dolores Park and spent the day there, laying in the grass. In the late afternoon, we made our way to the iconic Painted Ladies and laid there as the sun set. It was magical. Although there are many parts of the city I’ve yet to explore, I know I’ll return again and again. I’ve never visited a place where I felt such a sense of needing to be there, as I did in San Francisco.