Friday, March 31, 2006

Goodbye to Crackpotville!

"No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living"~William Saroyan

Thursday meant it was Jen's day off work, and it became my second day in SF of doing absolutely nothing besides sitting on the couch. It's my vacation, dammit, and I don't have to do anything. Right?? Thursday night was dinner at old standby Cha Cha Cha for Sparky's 39th birthday with the Procsters, the Roger&Kellies and Ol' Dutch. The food hasn't changed here in 15 years - chicken paillard, warm spinach salad, marinated mushrooms and cajun shrimp are still cooked with gallons of cream and butter; sangrias are drunk; you still have to wait for a table; and the Latin American-styles alters lining the walls are striking. And honestly, it's still good.

My journey of pho took me to Turtle Tower on Larkin near the Phoenix for a bowl of Pho Tai made in the North Vietnamese style, meaning no herbs or bean sprouts, and a clearer, less dense broth. The noodles are hand-pulled (read: FRESH) and the broth is light with very little oil. Wow, it was really good pho made even better by a rainy SF day, although I think I prefer the Southern Vietnamese-style that first caused me to fall in love with pho....I met Sparky at the Walnut Creek BART station to go up to Arnold for the weekend, where Kellie and Roger have a cabin in the foothills of the Sierras. Arnold is about an hour Northwest of Yosemite, near Angels Camp and Sonora in old Gold Rush country. I got a tour on Saturday of your various Wild West sites, including the "Mark Twain Cabin", a structure (re)built in 2003 because he MIGHT have stayed on this hill while writing his first novel, "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". Quite a big trade in frogs and Twain paraphernalia in these parts. The old gold rush towns are pretty cool, varying between towns developed to attract weekend traffic from the Bay Area, and towns that are rundown with very little going on -- shades of small Ohio towns with no jobs. Nice to spend a couple days with the Sparkster and the Williams-Collins', and sharing their refuge from the city......Back to SF on Sunday night for time with Denise and her gorgeous 9-month old baby boy Dino. What a lovely, happy child, and great to see his mom in fine form as well. Motherhood is doing her good. We had a semi-pricey but only adequate dinner at Luna Park on Valencia Street, where we masqueraded in a photo as "that nice lesbian couple" for someone's parents who were visiting. A couple drinks and a music swap with EM at the 500 Club and then it was off to bed......

And by Monday night, I was back in Brooklyn, the visit reconfirming for me that I do not want to live in SF again. Great to visit, surely miss my peeps out there, a gorgeous and a liveable big city, but living in Crackpotville is just not for me. (I really think SF has the highest rate of people who talk to themselves in public in the world) I can't quite put my finger on it, as to why I was so happy there once but now know that it's not where I want to be. I think I miss the edge and confrontation of NYC when I'm away, and while that gets tiresome too, I still find it invigorating and know that it's my home. I'm more comfortable here. Something about SF makes me want to tell racist jokes just to tweak the liberalist-of-liberal attitudes that come with California. And not that I disagree with the attitudes, but walking the PC party line all the time wears me out and makes me contrary. Lastly, I find myself wondering after a week of nostalgia for times past and renewing friendships, do old friends know you the best, or only know who you once were? And how do you absorb each others' changes, but still retain your connection?

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