I spend a lot of time walking around the hills in El Cerrito looking out at the city (when there’s no fog).
I miss the city and all it offered, from the sunset over the clusters of Victorian-style buildings to the ocean being on all three sides of me.
I loved the kitschy downtown area I always avoided. Coit Tower with all its stairs. The fact that the fog came through all summer, blanketing everything in a Gotham-style wonderland. That tourists always came to town in shorts in July, and we would laugh at them.
I miss long walks down Clement street with all the little bubble tea shops, markets, and vietnamese-style pork buns freshly made while you waited. I miss Green Apple books and their abundance of indie books, cd’s and movies. I miss being able to walk and walk until you hit the ocean less than 7 miles in most directions. I miss living on my own little self-made island away from family and all the stupid people I grew up with. I miss being completely independent, not reliant on anybody’s house or money. I miss how skinny all that walking made me. How people didn’t shove food down my throat and I could eat however I wanted and it was o.k.
I miss being able to come home to my Victorian apartment building and feel so safe and secure on the second-floor with the windows open overlooking the park and the street traffic below. That I could sit in the bay window and watch life go by while reading a book. The cool breeze any time of the year. The fact that we never really needed heat or air conditioning.
I miss that I could throw a rock and hit a good restaurant. The fact that there was a Burmese-Style restaurant right down the street along with Vietnamese Fusion, Japanese Sushi, a Russian Bakery, and a real cafe you could sit in with your computer all day long if you wanted.
I miss the sense of being a part of something bigger. Never feeling alone because I was surrounded by people all of the time. For once in my life not needing to run to somewhere else to get away from the redundancy of suburban neighborhoods and mind sets.
I miss the feeling of finally finding my people. Of running in the park and finding a buffalo reserve and a conservatory of flowers and a museum all in the same two mile-stretch along with a windmill and a beach.
I miss the laughing lady who used to be at the Cliff House. All of the seafood restaurants at Pier 39.
I loved that you could do anything from biking to running to hiking within an easy walk or drive. The roller skating dancers in the park. Kites everywhere on blustery spring days. The festivals and the street parades. Pride and Folsom Street Fairs. That most of my acquaintances had outgrown their native religions and closed-off mind sets of their youth. The kitschy bistros and boutiques. How there were so many different enclaves and neighborhoods with their own unique themes and energies.
I miss the safety in numbers. I miss the masses of musicians, artists and writers that clustered in every neighborhood. All the stupid Hipsters in the Mission District. The poetry slams and the open mics everywhere. That I always ran into old friends from all over the world.
I don’t know why I ever left. And I don’t know if I will ever be able to go back. Now I understand that saying, “I left my heart in San Francisco.” I will always miss the only place I ever really belonged.