This is not going to be a maudlin post about how you can never go home again. After three years from the Bay, I was home. Okay, my second home. But home, none the less.
Mostly, I just hung with my peeps and lived the life I used to live. Wonderfully magical for me, can’t believe you’d find it interesting. But there were highlights that may have you clicking onto Kayak to plan your own little holiday by the Bay. So I’ve taken the best of’s shaken, not stirred and poured them into one serving for you to savour.
In the morning, I rise early so that I can make the 8:30 Rhythm & Motion dance class with Wendy or Ryan at the ODC. This is a drop-in class for both professional modern dancers and lay people, even the soft flabby ones like me. This year, as I extended, step one, two, three-ed across the wooden floor, sweat pooling in every curve, including between my knuckles, my mind kept telling me that this was America’s solution to 50 Shades of Grey. Who needs a book when you could be in a hot, sweaty room, surrounded by a fair number of particularly fit, good looking guys, all of them completely unavailable to women? You’ve got your groove on, feeling 20 years younger as you bump and grind to music that has your blood pumping, taking care of yourself in a way you rarely do. Grrrr….. where was Mr French when I really needed him? (ps, they’ve got classes in Cincinnati, too, it anyone is interested…)
I know this is the place for me, because the class is full of friends from my past life, some of them totally unconnected; a girlfriend from high school, several moms from my daughters’ old school and writer friends.
M and I head to Haight-Ashbury, where there is something of a mix and because she is a teen. This area is teen heaven with all its cheap vintage shopping, albums stores (we’re looking for the Runaways lp… anyone?) and the thrill of walking past head shops as hippies sing, barefoot in the streets, totally enthralling my little Parisienne. We bump into a friend from my high school days and make an improptu visit to her home, just around the corner.
Thanks to FaceBook, M still has friends in SF, even though we left when she was 5! For lunch, she’ll be with her copine and I’ve got plans with Auntie J, my BFF since the 9th grade. I’ve requested that we meet at Zuni Café, known for having the best burgers this side of the Atlantic, served with original, house made pickles that I can’t get enough of. It is an unusually sun day, so we get to sit outside, watching antique J trains go by, the homeless with their shopping carts and the nutty lady next to us who spent her entire meal in deep conversation with her dog. Its all great, but the food is even better, with a Meyer lemon meringue something-or-other I am still drooling over.
We’ve got some time left and Auntie J needs some new clothes, so we head to Fillmore Street in the posh Pac Heights district. This is SF, where even the rich shop with a conscious, so Ralph Lauren is next to a charity shop, with Marc Jacobs not far from Goodwill. Truly, something for everyone.
Eventually, I find M and we hit Valencia Street taking photos of murals and stopping to purchase dried chilies. We explore (or walk by blushing) too-cool-for-thou cafés, fantastic vintage shops, original fashion, the woman friendly, anti-sleeze Good Vibrations sex shop, Dave Egger’s Pirate store, Paxton Gate taxidermist and bromeliad florist, and lots of very exciting eateries. Our destination is ¡Venga! Empanadas, where Spanish born, Argentine raised chef Manuel Godina and his crew make everything from scratch, serving up the best empanadas north of the equator with some perfectly blended sangria, all of it served in a sophisticated, fiesta inspired bar where 3O of our local friends will be joining us for a lovely soirée. Most of my friends have younger, kids, so the place is full of giggles and squeals. We all look fantastic, not one of us has aged, except the teen boys who grew a metre in our absence. We stroll home through crowds of the dead. It is Dia de los Muertas and the surreal moment is the perfect note for a most perfect visit to our not-quite home.