I haven't had a lot of lifelong dreams; I've had dreams, sure, but none of them as persistent as my desire to see Paris.
Since I was six years old, and my glamorous cousin Nathalie lived with us for a year, I dreamed of visiting the City of Lights.
I would gaze dreamily at images of the Eiffel Tower, reciting my high school French lessons to myself. Oh yes, I would sit in “un café” and drink “ma café au lait” and eat “pain chocolat” and my dream would come true.
And in May of 2007, it did, when Jamie and I had our dream honeymoon that included 5 days in Paris.
It was everything I'd hoped for; the Eiffel Tower as tall, the Louvre as overwhelming, the bread as incredible. All of it.
I've lived in the Bay Area my entire life; I went to San Francisco on countless field trips, went to college there, and now, for the first time in my adult life, commute there every day.
It's easy to get caught up in the craziness of my everyday. Running late for the train, not getting enough coffee at home, forgetting a meeting I'd had scheduled, deadlines looming. It's easy.
Every day, I walk about 3 blocks from The Embarcadero to my office; the San Francisco Ferry Building is home to every kind of food stall imaginable (seriously. There's a mushroom store. Just. Mushrooms.) I can buy artisan cheese, chocolate and bacon. Gluten-free pastries and free-range eggs. Right down the street from my office.
When I'm walking, I always see them. Often in groups, sometimes just a family, sometimes larger groups… the tourists. Some things give them away: Shorts and a tank top, for one. The San Francisco hoodie they've clearly purchased at Fisherman's Wharf is always a clue as well! (Hint: SF is not Southern California! It gets chilly, even in the middle of summer!)
I see them, posing happily for the camera, angling their lenses up at the Transamerica Pyramid, or a fountain in front of an office building, and sometimes, an art installation that I just haven't noticed recently.
And there are the one who, I can just tell what they're feeling. They are in bliss just being in my City. The brick sidewalks, the historic street cars, the Starbucks every 200 feet, the buskers and the vendors. They are thrilled just to be there, in the environment. I can tell.
It's easy to forget, that my every day city is someone's Paris.
This? 3 blocks from my office. It's so easy to take the beauty and awesomeness for granted, just because it's always there.
I think it's too easy to overlook the amazing in your every day life, because it's just that; your every day life. This fall, the fam and I are going to set out to play tourist in our own city. Jamie has never been to Alcatraz, and I'm totally curious to find out what kind of factoids I can learn if we take one of those open-top bus tours of this city we think we know.
Tell me about your everyday city; do you ever play tourist at home? What do you think is a must see in San Francisco?
I miss SF so hard right now… Hands down my favorite city.
Stephanie Burrage says
Great post Lizz…
And you are right we forget what great things we have so close to us. I didn’t realize your office was down there….AWESOME!!!
Last month I took the boys to Yosemite. It was their first time (I know I’m a slacker). As we were doing our thing Matt commented about all the foreign people there. As I started to explain to him how people from other countries save all year and come here…to someplace in our back yard it hit me “Oh my gosh…we live HERE – we are so lucky.” It was a very similar realization you had to SF. We are pretty dang fortunate to have such cool things so close to us.
I love looking around at tourists looking at things… and often take photos of them taking photos! LOL
I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s hard to remember that while I’m dreaming about foreign lands oceans away that I have something just as remarkable in my own backyard. Can’t wait to *visit* my city by the bay.
Mrs. L says
My husband was born and raised in San Francisco. We got married there. The day after our wedding, the day before we headed out to a far flung tropical island for our honeymoon, we spent the day exploring The City. Loved it. Had the BEST time. We explore The City all the time now because even though I’ve lived near San Francisco all my life and hubby was born there we are still finding things we didn’t know existed (seriously, a lake and mountain in the middle of Golden Gate Park?).
I also think we “locals” forget how close we are to the beach, to The City, major league sports teams, Yosemite, Napa, snow skiing, heck Disneyland is less than a days drive away! We truly live in a magical area (and the cost of our gas and housing reflects it LOL).
Elaine A. says
I love the title of your post because you are so right. I love the Golden Gate Bridge so much. I’ve been to San Fran a couple of times so it’s not my Paris (still need to make it THERE!) but I get what you mean. And I do not live in a city right now, just a town (in my opinion) and no one is really coming here to “see” anything, that is for sure! They do come here to eat though…. Cajun food… 😉
I’m sure there’s *something* interesting in your town! Anything?
Mad Woman behind the Blog says
SF is most definitely my Paris. My first visit was over 14 years ago but I remember that feeling of awe like it was yesterday. My heart aches for this city and one day, I’ll return to living there.
And while I don’t envy your commute, I certainly am jealous of your access! SIGH.
Note to self: GET TO THE CITY MORE!
I actually kind of love my commute these days, or at least I will next month when Max is in preschool! I’ll ride my bike to the BART station and then have almost an hour to just read and/or write, and then that same amount of time in the afternoon too!
I used to spend that much time driving, so you know what a suck that is!
I love SF. The labyrinth at Grace Cathedral is a favorite spot. I also want to make it out to the labyrinth at Land’s End sometime. Pretty much anywhere in Golden Gate park is great, too.
Grace is my home church! I was confirmed there, have slept on the floor behind the altar and walked up in the rafters! It’s an incredible place!
I love this post – one of my favorites:)) I love the city too – Love the feel and smell and traffic – and love the ball park!! It’s got to be one of the best in the nation and it’s right here for us to enjoy! My favorite city is Venice – Just love the concept of it – second to that is New Orleans cause it seems so like Europe to me. We are so lucky to live so near so many wonderful places. I would never move back to Minnesota where I was raised – I’d miss the ocean too much:))
I totally take San Francisco for granted even after I promised I wouldn’t after moving back from France, I have re-committed myself to getting to know it better since I work in it everyday! So glad that I connected with your blog via the Content Brew class!