San Francisco and I have a storied past. In all honesty, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t visit again. I’m not really a fan. I think the city is overrated and don’t quite understand the appeal. Am I not cultured enough or hip enough to “get it?” Perhaps. But arriving yesterday I was reminded not only of how uninspired I am by this 7 by 7 town, but also all the “meh-mories.”
First trip in my early 20’s with my mom and sister with a primary goal of visiting my brother who lived in Santa Clara at the time. I don’t remember much except the few touristy things we did which included a ferry ride on the bay and visiting the Pier. That trip was overshadowed by the one and only time I had the gumption to have words with my sister in law who (to this day) is a unique piece of work.
I visited again in my early 30’s with a girlfriend and her friend. My first real “girls trip.” Of course that was near the end of my marriage and I was a little bit of a wreck at times. I remember drinking too many Bloody Mary’s on the layover in Vegas on the way here and ending up with the most splitting migraine on the afternoon of my first day here. It took me out for a day, but I bounced back enough to do the touristy things, like riding a cable car and visiting the Pier. I also remember we went to a club one night that had salsa dancing and I had a great time. The man I danced with was a strong and brilliant lead and I remember thinking THAT was what I wanted from life (or rather who).
Fast forward about 4 years to 2012. By then I had been divorced about 2 years and was newly dating Matt. We had our big two week California adventure which began and ended in San Fran. We flew in, took the Starlight Coast train to Seattle and then drove back down on highway 101. It was a good trip but visiting the bay area was mostly just in and out. Of course we made time to visit the Golden Gate Bridge and, you guessed it, the Pier. We also had friends, Rahul and Sarah, we visited here and that was probably the highlight of our stay in the Bay.
Matt and I would travel to San Fran several more times during our five year relationship. He worked for a start-up that had regular meetings and I loved to travel so I would tag along. I don’t remember much except drinking and food and quit doing the normal touristy things. How many times can you see Alcatraz or the Sea Lions and not have it be sort of “so-what?”
I also can’t help but have a few memories about Matt from here that sadly (but fittingly) remind me why we were not a good match for each other. I could spiral down into that here, but I’ve not got the time or emotional energy for it right now. The point is, I’m so not in love with this town. I’m not even in like with it. So why am I here??
The short answer is because of my darling daughter, Z. She’s never been here before and when we were working out where she wanted to go for her High School Graduation gift trip, visiting this town was a big part of our grand plan. Of course that was last year and then the pandemic hit and all our plans got squashed, but we finally made it to the coast, about one month before she goes back to begin her sophomore year at UNL. Originally we had concert tickets for Fall Out Boy and now that’s not happening until a week after she goes back to school so instead we are planning our own little drive down the coast to go to Universal Studios in Hollywood.
For now, we have about 3 days to explore the area here and she does not know the extent of my feelings about the town so I’m open to doing whatever she wants to do. I’m sure that will involve many of those touristy things I’ve grown to groan about. But this trip is not about me, it’s about her. I want to make her experience as fun, memorable, and positive as possible.
Yesterday was day 0, travel day, which began super early and was very long. We had our first view of the bay, the bridge, and the pacific ocean. We had pizza for dinner at a local place that’s supposed to be one of the best followed by a quick stop at Ocean Beach to see the sunset. We also hit Target and TJ Max to pick up a few essentials and snacks and with that, I think we are set for getting the most of out this trip.
Today, thankfully, we are getting out of town and heading north to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom where Z is getting to meet her friend Alex in person for the first time. They met online and have been friends for a number of years and she’s one of the reasons visiting northern california was so appealing to Z. I’m excited for them. I’m not particularly jazzed about the amusement park, but we’ll see how that plays out.
We’ll see how all of this plays out. Maybe San Fran can redeem itself on this trip. Maybe something about it will change how I feel? A girl can hope right??
On that note.. It’s time for me to get up and get ready for the day. This early AM writing without my treadmill is very different but I’m going to try and document as much of this trip as I can for posterity.
Cheers to West Coast Wandering,