the view from alamo square on saturday night after a rainy day

the other day i was waiting for the bus in the castro. a girl with curly hair and a red peacoat was playing her guitar and singing on the street corner with her case open in front of her for spare change. the lights of bars and restaurants were lit up and crackling and quirky people of every kind were coming and going. the girl's crooning was a good soundtrack to the bustle. soon, a clearly homeless man walked in front of our street performer, and without hesitating, began to dance. he was dirty and wild and big and there on the corner he performed an extremely heartfelt interpretive dance. he closed his eyes and moved with astonishing grace, sinking to the ground for a pose or two, just really giving it his all. and people, slightly bemused but not enough to pause, kept going on their way with their own oddities peeking out of the pockets of their selves.

sometimes i feel like the city of san francisco's mantra is: be who you are and own it. this is a powerful lesson this place has taught me, and i'm grateful for it.

other francisco-isms noticed as of late:

-i went to the ballet (the little mermaid) with the woman i work for and weeped from devastating beauty. the war memorial opera house where the san francisco ballet performs (as well as symphony hall) is in the middle of the rough part of town (i have been in sketchy places in big cities before, but nothing is quite like the tenderloin). that juxtaposition is interesting. the city bursts with culture both refined and otherwise.

-i found a deal for hot (bikram) yoga classes and went to my first class a while ago. for 90 minutes i sweat my face off in a room full of wannabe mystics. it was intense. in that dimly lit, sweltering box, people found some major peace and detox and i was fascinated. and really hot. the hippie-ish sentiment constantly wafting through sf is fun.

-my friend discovered a place where you can get a good hour long massage for twenty bucks. the windows are covered in newspaper and it looks super dodgy. everyone inside is chinese and they give you chinese herbs and teas and a chinese massage. mostly, it was a good experience, especially because it was a funny adventure. did you know that 1/3 of san francisco's inhabitants are asian? i like the oriental hints and flairs around the bay.

-one of my favourite things about the city is that there are so many pretty lookout points to take in sweeping views. on saturday i gazed at the sprawl of san francisco from two choice spots with a new friend. the sky was churning after a day of rain. the light bright builidings of this town are bathed in different lights and slants of sun and it's romantic and sensational and well, i really love it here if you can't tell.

there is a ubiquitous conflict in my mind between 1) the clear, strong impression i had to come to san francisco and 2) the seeming lack of things coming together or progressing for me in this place. 1) and 2) butting heads, trying to make sense of each other. it seems logical to assume that the intensity of the feeling that got me here was tied to something big waiting for me here (i don't know, job, husband, maybe??)... but the other day as these 2 were duking it out in my psyche, i realized that maybe the sheer, unadulterated love that i have for this place, in and of itself, is reason enough for me to be here. the fact is that for now, me and san fran are hand and glove - a match made in heaven, MFEO. yes, i guess at least for now, that is enough.

i'm getting ready to leave the city for two months, and oh! i will miss it.


  1. Only 1/3 are Asian!? I would have guessed 3/4! Maybe that's just because I live in Sunset. That picture of the painted ladies with the rainbow behind is glorious! Way to go Charity! And I am 100% positive that San Francisco will miss you too. I know I will!

  2. Beautiful!!! Love this post (and obviously, love you too) I love your idea that San Francisco teaches us exactly the juxtaposition you describe with Opera in Tenderloin--about the beauty in unlikely places (or stages of life). The fact that even though the surroundings or circumstances seem less than ideal, they can be home to some of the best lessons and beautiful moments of life. The insight you have is powerful and hard-earned--how lucky for us that we have the chance to learn that and to learn from your experiences too!

  3. I love the way you write. I love picturing the man dancing in all his glory.

    Thanks for reminding me to be who I am and OWN IT!

  4. Someday...and before too long, you need to start writing a book. You are amazing!

  5. oh hey there! I didn't know you were there! how fun. we're about to move to new york now.

  6. oh char, I love you! I love this line: people kept going on their way with their own oddities peeking out of the pockets of their selves.

    you are a great writer.....and really good at analyzing your life....and I think you're right to embrace your love of SF as maybe the reason you're there. You sure are soaking it in.

    oh and I love your new blog design. your side stuff made me laugh. you rock.

    and, will you teach me some hot yoga this summer?

  7. Quite an exposé of vocabulary! Fun to get a slice of your adventures in SF. And, big day comin' up...