Finding Pieces of Home in San Francisco

After getting laid off at the end of my trip to Colorado where my dad lives, I have plenty of free time and want to save some of the money I have while unemployed. Simultaneously, I am missing my friends who moved to San Francisco as a group. So I decide that since I have the time, I’ll take the Megabus up to the city by the bay.

I wake up early, before sunrise to catch my 10 hour bus. Though it takes a while, the trip is smooth and I am on the streets of the City before the sun goes down. My best friend Keith works tonight, but while he is gone at the music venue he supervises, my  close friend Dave and I hit the streets for some grub and a few drinks. He is tall, strong, with long straight hair and broad defined features. First we walk from their house to their local watering hole, the Elbo Room. I can see why my friends frequent this bar, there is a metal show happening here tonight. We enjoy local beers on tap, like the Prohibition Ale from Speakeasy Brewery while we watch the long hair and patched vests shuffle through the dark bar into the side room where the stage is.

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Dave and some deliciously acidic Thai noodle soup.

Though we’d of course love to hear some metal, we’re too busy thinking about Thai food. I’m about to go on a three week trip to Thailand, and Dave just went not long ago. We try this new place he’s been hearing about right around the corner from the Elbo Room, Krua Thai. We talk about Thailand–the hot rain, the friendly people, the delicious food and beautiful scenery–while trying different noodle soups. Mine had onions, mushrooms, cilantro, tomatoes, and noodles in a broth of spice and acid. It is super tasty. While we eat we have a few more beers to send the night off right.

Walking but to their house, we pick up even more brews and drink the night away talking with some of our best friends and others. There seems to be a revolving door while guests of the 7 people who live here come in and out. The house is undoubtedly crowded because the rent is so expensive here. I don’t mind, though, I came here for a good time. The endlessly shifting cast is still audible in the background as I fall asleep on my mat on the floor of the basement.

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Light shines through the canopy of the John Muir Woods.

The next day is completely fresh, with many things to do, places to see, and food to eat. All my friends are off today so we decide to head out to the John Muir Woods.  First there is some important business to tend to: breakfast burritos. We drive over to one of their favorite local joints–the kind where the food is there in front of you stewing in delicious spices–and sit at the counter for different kinds of burritos. There is me, Dave, Keith, Garret, and Justin. Keith is tall and frail with long curly hair and tan skin. He sometimes wears black square glasses. Garret is short and pale with piercing blue eyes and fascinatingly thin features, and Justin is medium height and looks like a combination between Dave and Garret. While we joke and shoot the shit, I eat a chorizo breakfast burrito that hits the spot and fills me up with some much needed fat before our day of adventure.

On the way out of the City, we cross the bridge and stop at an abandoned navy base. It provides stunning views of the Bay, the ocean, and all the jutting rocks that greet the water. It is already  beautiful, but getting to the Muir Woods is even prettier.

Tall trees blanket the trail we’re on in a thick shade, the canopy towering high above us. It smells of deep wood and wild herbs. The light makes its way through gaps in the trees and strikes the trail. We hike for a while, aimlessly wandering the woods just like when we were  kids. Talking about trouble with women, work, music, everything and anything, I feel at home with my friends. Before we head back down the trail, we smoke a joint at their lookout spot where, even miles away, they can see their house.

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Lookout where we enjoy a joint.

After a tiring day, we grab food and drinks from the store and stay in to watch Borat, which we all realize is perhaps more hilariously offensive than it was when it came out. I fall asleep on my mat on the floor with ease.

Last day in San Francisco and I’m spending all of it with my best friend Keith. We’re off to set the day up right with Blue Bottle Coffee in the financial district. We get a siphon and cold brew and both are out of this world. The cold brew, of course, is Japanese style. Rich in flavor, earthy like light wood, this fresh cold brew is the stuff of dreams. But then the siphon arrives and the flowery notes of the Papua New Guinea are delicate and luxurious. I’m caffeinated as hell and ready to pace around an art exhibit. A day started off right.

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Siphons at Blue Bottle Coffee.

Next, we’re walking to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). We walk through the large museum, through the hordes of tourists and locals, and get inspired to make art of our own. The array of pieces are fantastic, and I particularly enjoy the German Art after 1960 exhibit.

After enjoying modern art, we’re ready for more of San Francisco’s artsy culture. We’re off to North Beach, which isn’t actually a beach at all. Instead it’s the Italian district where City Lights Books and Vesuvio’s bar have been for years. Walking around the book store, we look at the local poetry and I try to look for original copies from one of my favorite Beat Poets Jack Spicer, who City Lights originally published. After browsing books, which is one of my favorite things to do, we pick up pizza by the slice and take it over to Vesuvio’s, the bar where Beats like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg used to hang out. We enjoy our pizza with beers and cocktails while surrounded by all kinds of memorabilia, posters, antiquities, and other strange accouterments. Just like that, the night is done, and it is the perfect end to a perfect day.

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My friend Keith at City Lights books.

Waking up in the morning, it is time to depart. Before I go, though, it is time for breakfast overlooking the bay. We head to a small diner where we have waffles, potatoes, eggs, and other breakfast foods while watching the waves crash on the shore and the seagulls flying overhead. The whole group is here: Dave, Keith, Garret, Justin, and myself, and before the guys take me to my bus stop–where I will spend hours waiting for a tire to be fixed on the side of the road–we walk on the sand below the diner and I enjoy one last breathe of salty San Francisco air.

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The beach right before I leave.

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