Vocalization

It’s our first day in San Francisco. My mom and I have landed on time, toured Stanford, taken the BART into downtown, checked into our hotel, and bought our Muni passes. All that’s left is to make the trek out to dinner.

For our first San Franciscan meal we’ve chosen Pacific Catch, a tiny seafood joint tucked between colorful buildings in the Marina district’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, west of the Fisherman’s Wharf. We hop on a bus and 45 minutes later we’re gliding down Chestnut Street, the neighborhood’s lively main drag.

We step off and stroll over to the attenuated cafe; the vibrant afternoon sun casts a mellow glow over the street. The early onset of the dinner rush begins as people rush home from work, but there are few people sitting down at the restaurant. A charismatic waiter takes our order:  Hawaii-style Ahi Poke, Coconut Shrimp, sweet potato fries and the Grilled Ono platter. Perhaps jet lag has made our eyes bigger than our stomachs, but all dishes are thoroughly satisfying.

Stomachs full of fresh Pacific seafood, we hop on a bus headed for the waterfront. But as we move west I catch sight of a peculiar structure, and we get off.

The Palace of Fine Arts stands before me, an impressive edifice if ever there was one. It’s surrounded by a picturesque lake (swans included) and a lovely green park, all tinted yellow by the evening light. Looking like the love child of the Pantheon and the Parthenon, the Palace of Fine Arts resembles a massive stone gazebo. Willows rustle in the slight breeze, runners circumnavigate the structure’s grounds, and children try to feed the swans. The scene is nothing less than perfect for a few pictures.

My mom and I continue north to catch a glimpse of San Francisco Bay, when it’s not shrouded in fog. We reach a small beach near the SF Yacht Club, sparsely dotted with sunbathers and families playing fetch with their dogs. In the distance, on the bay’s shimmering surface, I see hundreds of windsurfers catching the breeze next to sailboats and ferries. Waves gently lap onto the damp sand, and whimsically-shaped metal works of art spin in the breeze, part of a display in an adjacent park.

I just sit here, thinking of nothing in particular but tranquility- the calm that always comes with looking at a sunlit ocean. The sun is beginning to sink behind the Golden Gate Bridge, an onslaught of fog imminent on the horizon.

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I don’t talk about anything different, either. In fact, my mom turns to me very astutely and says, “You know, you’ve never been this vocal about a place before.”

To which I reply, “Yeah…you’re right. I’m very vocal indeed.”

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