O cool, grey city of love!
Where else can you look out to see the twinkling night windows of the financial disctrict, the noble and erect Coit Tower shadowed by the moon, the diamond-like necklace of little lights strung along the outline the Bay Bridge? Where else can you step out your front door and watch the brooding hulk that is Alcatraz accepting the soft embrace of a diaphanous, cascading fog scudding just above the water in the Bay? Where can you hear the pealing of bells from Sts. Peter and Paul, chiming through the chill air of Washington Square Park on a Sunday, and during the rest of the week hear the tinny, cacophonous and somehow mesmerizing songs from cheap boom boxes surrounded by elderly Asians swinging arms and lifting ankles in a slow motion dance of Tai Chi? Where else do you hear Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian, French, English, Portuguese, Russian, German and Japanese all spoken in one place? Where else can you walk around the block and end up at the house where Scotty Ferguson lived? (He’s the guy Jimmy Stewart played in Vertigo.) Where, if you look eastward as the sun sets, do you see windows and buildings bathed in a golden glow so stunning it knocks the breath out of you?
San Francisco is the mother, the lover, the father, and the friend we've always dreamed of. It's generous and tolerant. It gives more than it ever asks. San Francisco welcomes you if your hair is green or if you have no hair at all, if you speak English or not. Polished or not, happy or un, San Francisco accepts you just as you are, no matter what--with unconditional positive regard, as the shrinks say. And best of all, she makes it easy to love her in return. Her beauty is far deeper than the buildings and the geography and the bars and the people and the diversity. San Francisco's beauty is that she somehow manages to be all things to all people: To immigrants, she represents hope and a new start; to young people, the big city to conquer; to the poor, a place with a mild winter, generous citizens, and kind hearts; to socialites, a rich playground; and to writers, to writers San Francisco is a wealth of inspiration.
I live not far from where Dashiell Hammett and a host of others penned their stories. I'm a short walk from City Lights and not far from where Allen Ginzberg gave his first public reading of Howl in 1955. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Mark Twain, Ina Coolbrith, Richard Henry Dana, Mary Austin and countless others lived and wrote here. Sometimes I think I feel their spirits in the damp breeze against my cheek as I climb the hills at night. Other times I’ll stop and pause to listen to the city sounds that sift up to the where I live and I wonder if it seemed to any of them, those writers who preceded me, as it sometimes seems to me, that here in this brash and ineffable place called San Francisco, anything and everything is possible. Sometimes when I sit quietly at the edge of the continent and watch the sun set in a blaze of red into the vast and calm Pacific, I know without doubt that yes, yes, of course they did.
Causes Gloria White Supports
A Friendly Place (Oakland, CA)