I have known the colorful city of San Francisco for a long time. When I stepped into the train heading to the city to visit my favorite locations, I took a seat and peered out through the stained-glass window into the suburban landscape. The train swayed from side to side, grinding to halts at the different stations as it made its way downtown. The train wasn’t crowed, the few people that were along for the ride immersed in their own world of phones, family, and newspapers. Turning on my headphones, my music guided me into the city, letting me settle into my seat and relax for the minutes as we dived into and surfaced through the tunnels on our way to Powell Street.
Leaving the BART train service, I purchased a quick cup of coffee. The sight of the hundreds of different tourists speaking different languages, the locals marching on familiar ground, and various daily workers assured me that I was near the heart of the city. I stepped onto the escalators and glided up to the street level. The familiar sight of the cable cars and grand shops made it the city that I had witnessed many months ago, and one that I fondly remember as close to home. The street vendors, preachers, and hustlers worked alongside each other on the sidewalk, reaching out to the tourists in exchange for cash. The shops at the Westfield Mall were glamorous, the building boasting a vast collection of luxurious amenities.
Despite the traffic and construction work from road to road, children ran and played on The Contemporary Jewish Museum courtyard. The ground sparkled a yellowish white, a gentle mixture of splashed sun and stone. Looking across the road to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a few people lay napping below the trees, pausing for their daily siesta.
Slowing my walk to take in the sights, I was lost between the buildings, alleyways, and city blocks but reemerged outside the familiar location of the SF Museum of Modern Art. The museum, as usual, took me into its safe and familiar hands and I spent a couple of hours in the galleries before my return to the suburbs. The beauty of San Francisco, sometime harsh and sometimes sublime, with its nooks and nuances, doesn’t daunt or overwhelm and neither does it disappoint in its stature. The recognized establishments for art, the striking street graffiti, the libraries and book shops, the gourmet food, and the dive bars, and all the small and large pieces of the city hold loosely together to form the beautiful city by the Bay.