San Francisco Solitude

Lovely Chinese women playing on the street corner.

As I write this, a street band is blasting Foxy Lady, and the corned beef and cabbage I had for dinner at Lefty O’Doul’s is grumbling in my stomach, so I’m not sure I can capture the personality of San Francisco. I think a good vacation deserves at least a little waxing poetic, so I will do my best. And our trip to San Francisco has been, most definitely, good.

I’ve often thought I’d enjoy city life—especially when I was young. I can’t say I still feel that way. Maybe if I were wealthy enough to live on the outskirts or in a quiet gated community off the beaten path. But, living in the heart of Union Square would not be my notion of an ideal existence. (We’ve been told the cost of an apartment per month is several thousand.) Yet, this amazing city has offered us some wonderful memories.

One memory I’ll keep was standing at the fore of a catamaran—ocean breeze making my hair a frightening sight, and salty spray in my face as we sailed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The sway of the boat, the sight of other ships sailing, and the sound of the many languages spoken by other visitors. Dolphins leapt from the water. Ever-present seagulls flew above us as though their job was to make sure we got exactly where we were to go. How wonderful those final moments of solitude we seafarers shared near the end of the trip. We collectively quieted, staring out at the water and approaching city skyline, glad we spent one hour on the sea.

I most enjoyed the quiet moments in the midst of all the noise of the city. Music blaring, (Play That Funky Music is seeping into our window on the 12th floor as I type.) taxi cabs honking, and the cable cars ding-a-linging right past our corner here on Powell and Geary is constant. Yet, for about forty-five minutes yesterday we sat in front of a fountain in Golden Gate Park and enjoyed a lovely young woman with long dark hair as she played her harp. Such peace and gentleness in the middle of so much bustle. A slice of solitude.

The people are a delight. Lombard street zig-zagging like a crazy dream made by a maniacal street crew. There’s enough sour-dough bread here to strengthen the weakest jaw. The sound and smell of sea lions at Pier 39 will make you smile as you cover your nose.

Yes, I like it here just fine.

But I must leave. And as I review what I’ve typed, it seems obvious to me, I love solitude more than excitement. So, good-bye San Francisco. You are an amazing place. Loved the Dim Sum in China Town. Loved the seafood and even those constant hills and jabbering taxi drivers. I’d certainly return, but my home is now calling me.

I will leave you with some pictures, and a few quotes about this amazing place.

“The Bay Area is so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I’m here.” (Billy Graham)

“Now there’s a grown-up swinging town.”  (Frank Sinatra)

“One day if I go to heaven…..I’ll look around and say ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco’.” (Herb Caen)

“San Franciscans are very proud of their city, and they should be.  It’s the most beautiful place in the world.”  (Robert Redford)

14 thoughts on “San Francisco Solitude

    • ginabarlean@gmail.com says:

      High praise from someone who takes amazing pictures!! I wish I could see some of your great vacation spots, too!

  1. I like your imagery of sailing beneath the Golden Gate bridge – the dolphins, the seagulls, and, most of all, the solitude it afforded. How international San Fran is! Your wonderful photos made me feel I had been there, too, Gina. Thank you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a beautiful evocation of the place. As a Californian, it’s one I’ve visited a few times. I enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.

  3. My two older sons used to live in the Bay Area, so I got to visit from time to time. The price cost of living there will certainly take your breath away. I really enjoyed the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. Vegetation there is really unique (to my experience, so I took lots of photos on my pre-digital camera. I haven’t scanned them yet, but someday . . .

    I’m glad you had a good time. San Francisco is a great place to visit, but watching my son drive a manual transmission (car) up and down those hills gave me the willies.

  4. Darrell Kahler says:

    I’ve enjoyed your musings of San Fran. I have yet to experience the ups and downs of the city. My best recollections involve Karl Malden and Mike Douglas chasing bad guys in chrome-laden land yachts à la 1972. I’ll enjoy listening to Steve’s thoughts on Saturday night. Tell him I’d like his delivery in the style of Sam Clemens; there should be plenty of resources on the web to guide him.

    • ginabarlean@gmail.com says:

      Yes, the tours we took made sure to point out every building that had a movie filmed there. Sam Clemens. I’ll pass it on.

  5. I always enjoy visiting San Francisco. I’ve gone to several conferences there. We love hanging out at the pier, and a stroll down Lombard street is always worthwhile. Such pretty houses and gardens. Chinatown is fun to see, too. Glad you had a great time!

    • ginabarlean@gmail.com says:

      I have to admit, the sourdough bread was… sour. But it sure did taste great when soaked in the juice of Cioppino.

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