This morning I’m in San Francisco again while R is in class. As we walked together down a familiar road, I had the sudden realization that I had been here before and not just in the previous weeks but back in the time that I didn’t have a wedding band. Back before I had stretch marks from losing weight quickly because of dancing all weekend, not because of housing babies in this now tired albeit chunky body. Back before when the outfit du jour allowed special privileges of cutting lines into the clubs and free flowing drinks once in the VIP lounge.
That was exactly what I was doing about two decades before on that very street.
This was a street I used to know.
I’m wandering the city I used to know. It was– and still is– full of energy and promise.
I spent a lot of time here, at the Fulton 5 stop on Market. Is it even still called that? Almost every weekend I’d take the bus downtown to window shop, to enjoy the sun, and people watch. To go from a sheltered upbringing to being set loose in a big city was almost too much to bear at once and trust me, I have a couple of academic probation semesters to show for it, but it was a necessary step to realize that I’m in college for an education, not just a pit stop to aimless adulthood.
I watched so many Broadway shows here
and I enjoyed every moment. The youngest and I will come back in the fall to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. A lot has changed since getting balcony seats for a day’s pay as an undergrad. It feels busier even though the box office is closed. The energy from past shows still linger on a quiet Saturday morning.
I walked down these streets I used to know as a young student, anxious to buy the latest styles to party at the hottest nightclubs.
Instead I see brand names, tourists, and the homeless they ignore.
I spent so much time taking in the city that I never let the city take me in.
This morning I wander without my children yet with a curfew since my mother will be annoyed if we are gone too long. I wander to listen to the traffic and frustrated drivers sitting on their horns. I wander to catch up to tourists speaking another language so I can listen to the melody of their conversation. I wander to peer through the windows of museums I never knew existed.
I wandered down streets I barely remember to be delivered to galleries that house works by Dalí, Picasso, and other painters who’s art carries a five or six digit price.
I wander the streets like a tourist, taking in scenery with a lifespan and not knowing if I’ll ever see this moment, this store, this statue ever again.
With middle age looming, our visits to this city become less frequent. Time and cost are fleeting but for whatever reason, I’ll be back to retrace my footsteps that will soon be erased by time that I used to know.