Sunday, August 16, 2009

My hypothetical life on a hill

San Francisco makes my heart hurt a little.


There's something about a city determined by geography that appeals to me. I don't understand the connection people have to those metropolises that have just been dumped randomly onto an empty plain. Sure, I recognize the practicality of such spaces, but I find them utterly lacking in character. Perhaps it just appears that because of their lack of need to consider the environment around them, these cities aren't quite as conscious of their surrounding. When you are built in a valley or on the shore, the features of the outdoors suddenly become such a necessary part of day-to-day life, whether it be your daily bridge crossing or the hike up the hill to the grocery store.

Sure, more often than not, these realities of the environment are actually a hassle. I have cursed the fact that the mountains and ocean shores in make for a series of awkward bridges, curvy roads and traffic jams in the city I live in, as compared to the convenient bold highways dumped in the middle of prairie cities. And the hills of San Francisco, while picturesque, certainly make for gasps for air, squealing brakes, and aching toes, even without an armload of groceries.

But these hills are just so damn beautiful. I adore how you turn a corner and are suddenly greeted by an unexpected and dramatic view, how the bottom floors of houses are cut into a diagonal by the sidewalk, how the old houses loom above the people walking their dogs below. Perhaps it is from growing up on the sides of a mountain, but hills just feel like home to me somehow.


As I wander about the streets, I am a little insatiable in searching out the details. I feel compelled to peer down every corner and sneak a glimpse into any open backyard, just to make sure I'm not missing something. I feel like I'm playing dress-up, adult-style; instead of wearing a tiara and pretending I am a princess, I masquerade as a local. I ride public transit and decide which coffee shop would be my coffee shop. I start imagining all the things I would do in my new San Francisco life. These include taking naps with my cat in my bay window, growing herbs on my roof, and having serious phone conversations on my front stoop. I even briefly consider taking up smoking in my hypothetical life just for the satisfaction of having a formal reason for climbing out my window onto the fire escape late at night.

25 comments:

Kaci said...

I can't help but think that (if I ever got the chance to travel, of course), I'd do the same thing.

Andhari said...

SF is definitely in my list of places to visit. It looks super beautiful!:)

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

I felt much the same way. When we stayed in the Mission District, we saw clouds rushing over the buildings like jet planes. The geography of the bay causes this effect. It was wonderful. Like the sky was in a hurry, but the rest of us weren't

Mandy said...

I always feel so much more home in the hills. San Fran looks like such a lovely city and is stunningly picturesque.

Jess said...

This is how I feel about Denver. I love the mountains and I am always looking for them.

Surfergrrl said...

one of my favorite cities!

Tristan | the arw said...

I wrote a post, awhile back, about my alternate life in New York City -- in which I would probably take up smoking for similar reasons. There is something about these great big cities that make such an impression on us, they inspire us to be different versions of ourselves. I understand your San Francisco experience completely. Glad to hear that you had such a wonderful trip.

PS I'm back to my blog and plan on posting every now and then, much like yourself. It's been nice to take a break, but it's also nice to have returned. Thanks for reaching out to me this summer. I can't express how much I appreciated your emails.

Phil said...

I went to San Francisco for the first time in April, and for the first time ever visiting a new city, I felt completely at home. In part, it could be because the Castro is like the mother ship for gays, but the other part is that the city is so eclectic that even being a complete stranger to it is perfectly ordinary. It's also the first place I've been to that I immediately thought, "Someday, I want to live here."

Bayjb said...

I like San Francisco but I can't imagine living there. I love the architecture and parks but the hills and homeless are definitely a problem :)

Leslie/Squid Pro Quo said...

We love you too :)

Ronnica said...

I love San Fran. When I was there last summer, I daydreamed of moving there, but I couldn't get past the cost of living, even in my dreams.

P said...

I've never been but it is one of those places I've always wanted to visit.

Katelin said...

i seriously love san fran, i can't wait to go back again someday.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I had a twinge for SF, but New Orleans really stole my heart. I'd travel there often and because of the frequency I felt like a local....I gave directions, recommendations, and knew how to avoid the "tourists".

LiLu said...

Is there anything more beautiful than a hill on the coast stacked with colorful little villas?

I THINK NOT.

a marmalade ricochet said...

s'mat here, brandishing a a new stuponym... love this post especially, as i've taken to approaching life recently as you so assess it here. funny how it takes 'removal' to see things this way, as if these glorious things are only made palpable through a sort of speculative alienation or yearning.

did you see any segway tour groups?

benjibopper said...

San Fran had a similar effect on me, got me dreaming of all possibilities in a melancholy kind of way.

Maddy said...

That insatiable curiosity? I've only been to SF once but that's exactly how I felt.

Daisy said...

I sooo want to go to San Fran, lucky you. I also do that in cities I like - I don't just want to visit, I want to live there forever!

eric1313 said...

Then y0ou would love it down here. Hot Springs is laid out in a valley between two mountains, with large lakes bordering it on three sides. Of course, the lakes are from hydroelectric damns, but sti, it is the geography that makes it so cool!

Missin my friends, but glad to know all is well.

Peace out!

EP said...

This post really, really makes me want to check out San Francisco.

Holly said...

That second photos is awesome, it looks like a wicked house! :D

Chris Allin said...

I really, really want to visit SF. It seems like such a beautiful place, flat plains which cities are built on are so boring. Finding houses on top of hills or in forests is so much fun, wandering who lives in these places and how the houses came to be built. I make it an aim of finding them when I go for walks with my friends.

My girlfriend lives in a city in Norway surrounded by mountains, it's absoloutely breath taking and I instantly fell in love with it. My city is built in valleys and surrounded by nature so in some ways it's engrained into my soul, a simple love for all things that aren't flat.

There's more texture to life on hills :)

Feelmore said...

I love that feeling of playing 'dress up' in another city. And I miss San Francisco so much... those hills (albeit absolutely agravating for heels) will always be my home.

Summer Fades said...

I moved here in 2007; was an "outsider" for about a week. What I love about this city is how friendly every one is, how helpful every one is, and how the City comes alive to those who are willing to discover it. San Francisco, expensive as it is, is completely livable. I tell everyone I can that living here, even for just a year, is worth the life experience. You won't be disappointed...