Sunday, July 22, 2007
San Francisco - Day 4
I woke up this morning feeling sad.

It's our last day.

Eric and I grabbed our morning coffee at a cafe called "The Nook" and drank it on the roof.

We sat there for a long time afterwards and gazed at the city of San Francisco.

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John was feeling low.

The weather began to change. It grew colder and more window. The apartment walls creaked and the wind from the open window blew papers off of John's desk.

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It looked almost eerie and surreal. The tufts of thick clouds rolling over the city..

We spent most of the day inside John's apartment, talking...

Later on in the afternoon, I cleaned up the flat. It was a a bit messy from 3 nights of non-stop partying. Eric and John did some laundry. We also did some grocery shopping.

This was not a day for sightseeing. We had deeper issues to discuss about future...

There was an overwhelming feeling of melancholy in the air.

As the evening progressed, the mood improved. We stayed up all night talking. We decided not to sleep because we had to leave so early in the morning to catch the flight back to New York.

We ended up laughing so hard my sides ached and tears spilled down my cheeks. It involved a cat falling off a cabinet. It's a long story...

It was such a fun night.

Saying goodbye was hard. The taxi arrived too quickly and we were rushing down the stairs with our luggage. We had to say our goodbye's so quickly...

But sometimes that's easier than drawing it out painfully.

Even though we know we'll be back in September, it was difficult to leave. We sat in the taxi and watched John's apartment disappear as we turned the corner. The streets were filled with fog.

My eyes filled with tears.

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I'm so glad we made this trip.
posted by Clarity25 at 5:32 PM | 6 comments
This morning, I woke up at 11:30 A.M. and took a trek down to the California Street Cafe again for coffee to go with Eric. I'm starting to get a feel for the area and feeling comfortable.

The lady behind the counter thought Eric was IRISH and loved his accent. (After living in America, Eric's German accent has transformed into some odd difficult to define mixture that is always mistaken for something else.) She was incredibly open and friendly.

We also picked up some sushi and smoothies at "Cal Foods". It was the oddest shaped grocery store I had ever seen. the architecture was similar to a 1950's science fiction movie. The cashier had long platinum blond hair that she kept flipping over her shoulders and she was all smiles.

The people in San Francisco are so different from New York City. It's like two different worlds.

After breakfast John, Eric and I drove over the Golden Gate bridge.

I could see the ocean on all sides and the massive structure of the vibrant red bridge as we went under the peaks. The deep green mountains and the clear blue sky. Music was blasting from the stereo and all the windows in the car were open. It was utterly Euphoric and I felt so free. so alive!

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When we reached the other side. We parked and took in the famous view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate bridge. Sailboats bobbed in the water, the warm breeze, the sound of seagulls, the blaring of a ship horn...

We could see San Francisco across the shore. Our new home..

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Afterwards we drove to Ocean Beach..

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People were running, sun bathring and leaping through the waves. There were massive rocks in the distance and you could see the mountains. The weather was perfect. So far there hasn't been much of the infamous fog during our trip. Sunny days and clear skies. .

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We all walked across the sand towards the shore.

Eric rolled up his jeans and ran into the water

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I listened to the crashing waves and took into the view while Eric and John talked about the move and the area.

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"This is beautiful...", I said

"You haven't seen anything yet", John assured me. "I wish we had more time, I have so much to show you guys.."

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Later on we went to the famous In and Out Burger restaurant for the best cheese burgers in San Francisco. Eric was curious because of the reference in "The Big Lebowski" - i.e. "Those are good burgers, Walter". Apparently this is a really popular joint. It was packed to the rim.

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Afterwards we hung out in John's flat. We talked and drank wine into the early morning hours.

This was my favorite day of our trip so far.

I can't believe tomorrow is our last day, I don't want to leave.
posted by Clarity25 at 4:49 PM | 2 comments
Friday, July 20, 2007
Day 2 - San Francisco
We overslept.

At 2 O'clock in the afternoon, I heard the sound of a clanging cable car bell in the distance and creaking in the apartment walls from the outside wind. I shifted awake and sat up slowly. For a moment I felt disoriented and confused. I was lying on an air mattress in the middle of a strange livingroom with open windows. I could see the view of the golden gate bridge and the fluffy passing clouds.

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I shook Eric awake. He opened his eyes and smiled. We both leaned against the window frame and took in the view of San Francisco..

Eric went to take a shower and cried out "Clarity! Come here! HELP!...Can you tell me how to turn on the shower?"

I joined him in the bathroom and we both stared at the faucet. Turn left for HOT and right for COLD. We tried to pull it up, down and around...nothing happened.

But no switch to go from the shower to the faucet. We searched everywhere. Apparently this odd model had the switch located underneath the faucet nozzle. This little attachment that you pull down and twist. We had to have John explain it.

Strangest thing I've ever seen. Does anyone else have a shower like that? Is it a San Francisco thing?

Then I realized that John didn't have any coffee or even a coffee machine. He simply doesn't drink coffee. That's UNHEARD OF for a New Yorker. I panicked. I need my daily morning caffeine fix.

So I hit the streets in search of a coffee shop. I headed downhill...

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The weather was perfect. Not too hot, not too cool and with a gentle breeze. I could hear some music coming from an open apartment window. A couple of people jogged past me. I'm amazed at how many people in California run instead of walk from place to place...

Then I discovered the California Street Cafe..

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Artsy with wireless internet connection. There were people on the coffee shop sofa's surfing the web on their laptops and a funky woman with beads behind the counter. I ordered a Cafe latte and a Cappuccino.

Then I headed back uphill to John's apartment.

We all hung out in his living room, drinking coffee, eating breakfast and chatting for 3 hours..

John wasn't much in the mood for sightseeing but he urged us to go out there and do something. He promised to join us tomorrow. After an hour of pleading with him to come with us.. we accepted his desire to stay at home. "Just go on, check out San Francisco, have some fun exploring..." He said "Here's the keys to my car. I'll take a nap now and we'll all hang out tonight"

We headed out the front door to take in a little bit of the city for the first time...

But we didn't know where to go. So we just started walking...

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We walked down Clay street towards China Town...we took a turn on Powell street... All the street signs changed to chinese for a while. We just took in the sights and sounds. We had no clue where we were going...but we knew we were heading towards the water..

We stopped at the Mario's Bohemian Cigar store Cafe for more coffee...

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We ordered some Cappuccino's and checked out the map to see where we were heading.

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From the coffee shop window, we had a great view of Washington Square

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People were lounging on the grass, throwing frisbees, making out, laughing and reading. The weather was so ideal and the clouds were a deep blue.

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At that moment I felt so good about of our decision to live here in San Francisco. There's a certain warm feeling in this city. The people are nicer. They seem to be smiling more than New Yorkers. There is more of a bohemian feeling..

We continued our walk

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Eventually we reached Fisherman's wharf..

There were breakdancers spinning on their heads.. street performers of all types... Horse and buggies... music blasting.. Tourists EVERYWHERE..

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We strolled over the docks holding hands and took in the view of Alcatraz

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Seeing Alcatraz for the first time in person really floored me. I've read about Robert Stroud (The "Birdman of Alcatraz), Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Of course, the most recent movie I saw it in was "The Rock"

We wandered on.. Passing the old ships

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and went into the San Francisco Museum. It had old coin machines dating back to the early 1900's and they were all in working condition.

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I wasted too much quarters in this place, excitedly running from machine to machine. Getting my fortune read, viewing old moving pictures, playing old games...

The biggest waste of a quarter was on THIS machine

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Can you guess what the answer was?

We continued on our way..The fisherman were cracking open crab legs and serving fresh seafood at the market.

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We stopped to eat at BURGERMEISTER... Eric ordered a vegetarian Burger and I had a portobello mushroom inbetween two buns.

We walked up the INSANELY STEEP Lombard street. I was panting and sweating the entire way up. The street was nearly vertical, you can lean against it when you need to rest during your journey.

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But the view was astounding...

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At the top was the famous crooked street that I've only seen in movies and postcards.

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We continued to the very tippy top..I just stood there and took it all in. I can't believe we're going to live here!

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The sun was setting and everything had a warm glow over it. Eric and I held hands and continued up HYDE STREET..

When he saw "Swensens" he grew excited. "I went here with my mother when I was only a small boy! It had the best icecream I've ever tasted!!"

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We stopped in for icecream. I had a scoop of "Thin Mint", he had a cookies and cream sundae..

We ate our icecream while walking back to John's house. We were both in a great mood. This is our first real vacation together in 5 years. I never knew that 4 simple hours just strolling through the city could be so relaxing and fun.

John was taking a nap. We woke him up and we all hung out together in the livingroom. We caught up on old times, laughed, drank, talked for hours and hours.

I can't remember what time we fell asleep...

It's so good to see John again and to be here in California.
posted by Clarity25 at 10:02 PM | 7 comments
Thursday, July 19, 2007
We had to leave for the airport at 1:30 A.M. in order to arrive 4 hours early to check in for our standby flight so it didn't make much sense to sleep.

Besides, I was way too excited to even attempt to take a nap before the flight. I packed our bags and checked them over and over to make sure I didn't forget anything. I was pacing back and forth across the living room floor wringing my hands while Eric tried to get a few hours of shut eye in.

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The airport was filled with sleeping travelers in random cots spread out on the floor, We weaved around the bodies and checked in.

The man behind the desk told us that we were the very first standby passengers to check in for this flight but that the airplane was packed, so we might get bumped anyway. He told us to be patient.

Our Aunt had told us to wear "business Attire" and to look our very best because we were representing the airline. Eric had on a full suit and I was in high heels. We were trying to pull off the "Mature Professional couple look" I wonder if anyone was buying it.

4 hours later we were bumped from the first flight.

"We're sorry, folks. This flight is full to the limit. You'll have to wait for the next one"

We waited.

2 hours later...

We were once again bumped...

We paced around the airport for another two hours. I was beginning to feel disheartened. Eric kept checking the departure times on the monitors, while I started falling asleep on the table in the airport Starbucks.

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We waited and waited...

Finally we heard our names called on the third flight to San Francisco going out of New York for that day.

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith... we have ONE ticket available in First class otherwise the plane is entirely full. The next flight in 4 hours has no available standby space. Are you willing to SEPARATE? only ONE of you can get onto this flight. I'm very sorry"

Eric shook his head. "No we're not separating."

"Eric, you should go ahead... I'll just wait here. I'm sure I'll get a flight out at some point. You heard her.. she said that the next flight is full. Go on without me." I insisted

"No why don't YOU go ahead and I'll wait around", Eric protested

"I don't want to... You go ahead"

We were both nearly in tears.

The airline attendant interrupted us "Wait!!! Another space opened up in First class. You can BOTH get on this flight. But you have to HURRY HURRY!! Go go go!"

She pushed us onto the terminal and we ran onto the plane.

We were breathless as we fell into our seats. I looked around in amazement. We were in FIRST CLASS!! I had never flown first class before. The seats were all leather, with so much space for our feet... They moved down into beds with electronic buttons. An airline stewardess immediately approached us and took our jackets to hang up in the closet.

"Would you like something to drink? A cocktail? soda? wine?"

I could barely speak.

The ride was pure luxury. A 3 course meal, desert, endless beer and wine. They even made the salad right in front of us. I was given a personal entertainment system with movies and music albums I could access by pressing the screen. I had to keep pinching myself to convince myself that this wasn't all a dream

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I was exhausted, but it was impossible to sleep. I was way too giddy.

Soon we were landing. Eric and I excitedly peered out the window at California below us. The sky was clear until we approached San Francisco, then we saw fluffy clouds obscuring our view. As though we were entering NEVERLAND from Peter pan, a mystical Island.

We were here, San Francisco International Airport.

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When we exited the plane, we could see the mountains around us through the airport windows.

"We're here!!!! We're here!!!" We were high from all the wine and coffee served on the flight. Eric was laughing.

We picked up our luggage and took the sky train to the BART subway system. We bought tickets for a train that would take us from the Airport into DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO.

We ended up in POWELL STATION 20 minutes later.

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When we walked up the steps from the BART subway station onto Powell street... I saw a cable car for the very first time. I knew we had finally arrived in San Francisco.

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They bustled loudly up and down the steep roads, the bells clanging. People were jumping on and off. Street performers were on the streets, people weaved around us. There was so much energy in the air.

We just stood there taking it all in.

I couldn't believe we were actually here!

We decided to attempt to walk to John's house from the BART station even though we knew it would be a bit of a distance.

We stumbled up the hills dragging our luggage behind us. My high heels made me unsteady and I had a hard time navigating. I kept gazing around in awe and losing pace. The weather was hot and my suit jacket was making me sweat. Finally we reached the top of the hill..

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We could see the water and the mountains in the distance. It was beautiful... but I knew I couldn't make the rest of the walk. I was leaning against the building entirely breathless...

We finally caved in and took a taxi the rest of the way.

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John greeted us on the street and ran up to give us a hug. It was incredible to see our good friend again after over 5 years of being separated. He looked exactly the same as we remembered him.

He helped us take our luggage up all the flights of stairs leading to his top story flat. "There is no elevator", He explained "This is an old house dating back to the early 1900's"

His apartment was wonderful. Hardwood floors, a new kitchen and one room that just had big windows on all sides. He pulled open the blinds and showed us the view.

I just gasped and stared.

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It was mind-blowingly beautiful. I was seeing the golden gate bridge for the first time. A gentle breeze came in through the window and I could hear all the sounds of the city below. It was like living on the top of the world.

I felt so happy and speechless at that moment. It all felt like a dream.

We changed into more comfortable clothing and all sat together in his livingroom. We had so much to talk about and catch up on.

Afterwards we went to chestnut street and had dinner at a restaurant called "Skewers", at least I think that's what the name was. I was too overwhelmed at the fact that I was in San Francisco to register much else. I had honey mustard chicken.. It was delicious. We also drank wine.

We returned to his flat and just lounged there all night, drinking, talking, laughing...

I fell asleep (after being awake nearly 48 hours straight) eager to see what the rest of the city had to offer... It was just the beginning.

End of DAY ONE.

Day 2 coming soon...
posted by Clarity25 at 6:54 AM | 3 comments
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Going to San Francisco
It's been a while since I've updated here.

Life has been hectic. I have a new job that takes up most of my time these days and there hasn't been much to write about..

Until now...

There has been a new development in our life and I was waiting until I told all my family members before writing about this.

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Our Good friend from art college that now lives in San Francisco invited us to live with him.

We are moving to San Francisco in September!!

I've never been to California and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I'd live there. We talked this through all last week and now it's official. We ARE going to do this. Life is too short not to.

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We decided that we would store most of our belongings and furniture at my parents house for now.

We will pack up our little Toyota Corolla with all the essentials (as much as we can possibly fit) and drive cross country to San Francisco.

My father will drop the cats off at the airport once we reach San Francisco and we will pick them up from the pet cargo area. I think they would handle a couple of hours in an airplane better than a road trip

Since we'll be moving into a fully furnished apartment with our friend, it doesn't make sense to bring over our entire household just yet.

We'll be taking the (I-80) Lincoln Highway route from NY to CA. We'll be driving through a number of states...

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada...

and finally we'll reach California.

But before that drive, we'll be visiting our friend for a couple of days next week. I can't wait to see him.

We have standby tickets from our Aunt that works for an airline company. I hope we can get on a flight...

I'm so excited!!

Another big move and change in our life, so It's time to start up this blog again...We never seem to stay in one place long enough to call it "home" but that's what makes life interesting.
posted by Clarity25 at 5:45 AM |