Pier On

Dear J-

It was my birthday yesterday — I turned 39 — and theVet asked me early in the morning where I wanted to go. Failing deeper inspiration, I said Pier 39. There’s a carousel there and we could (and did) walk to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream sundaes. It wasn’t until we came back to the house that I realized the specific numerology of the situation and quite honestly I’m not sure that it could be repeated next year, as Pier 40 would be south of Market, if I count it right, and I’m not sure there’s ice cream and carousels available there. It was fun to have the tourist experience (bread bowl clam chowder!) but there was an excess of fun food and honestly I could have had the same experiences closer to home.

And yet. I understand how the tourism business grew up thick and heavy in San Francisco. Yesterday was nearly perfect except for the wind blowing cold and steady off the Bay; on a clear day like yesterday, augmented by the rain having knocked the particles out the day before, you can see seemingly forever: Marin, both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz, Treasure Island, Oakland, seemingly looming across the Bay like the close neighbor it is. At times the city and its surroundings reminds me of the salt rim on a fancy drink: we’re built up all around a body of liquid on a thin rim, dense as we can manage. The views alone are enough to keep you rolling.

There was a couple behind me just now, completely wasted and heading … somewhere. Lives intersect on public transit, colliding and spinning off into the night (early morning) and maybe that’s what I wanted from the tourism experience: to feel connected to the world at large and all its happenings. There are, so they say, a million stories in the big cities, and every one has one to tell. Those two behind me? Who knows where they were ultimately heading, though it was clear they didn’t have tickets and society had conditioned one to respond to the conductor deferentially, whereas the other — maybe from a privileged background — lipped off the second the back was turned. Dynamic contrasts, these days and nights.

Mike

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