home plate san francisco

A Golden Gate Birthday (Part 2)

Saturday October 1, 2022

On Saturday we woke up with a renewed determination to see the bridge.

We’d been given advice: 11:00am – 2:00pm.

That was the window. The no Karl window.

So we took our time getting ready, popped into a café for a quick coffee and a pastry, then walked with new resolve through our already familiar neighborhood to the water.

I took this picture at 10:56 a.m.

It wasn’t the whole bridge. It wasn’t the bridge from the travel photo with the perfect lighting and a sky that had never even HEARD of Karl. But it was, like, 80% of the bridge. The most I’d ever seen.

I thought of eigth grade me. Her eyes squinting in the overcast lighting, her hair gelled back in a ponytail, her shoelaces tied too tight. Here we were again, 18 years later.

From the bridge, we walked back by the Palace of Fine Arts—because why wouldn’t you?—en route to the Lyon Street Steps.

Lyon Street on its own is a bit of a hill. It’s gradual but constant. So when the stairs came into view and my friends glanced at me as if to say, “is THAT where we’re going?” and I smiled my best smile as if to say, “SORRY BUT YES,” I felt that small fear of did I plan the worst trip ever shiver through my spine.

But it wasn’t as strong as before.

I was having the best time, and I was surrounded by my best friends. There was an ease that had overtaken the fear. I still wanted everyone to have a good time, but I felt less afraid that they weren’t. It was a good day, and even stairs couldn’t ruin it.

We walked up the first flight, and were already excited at the view to come. We played “The Distance” by CAKE on one of our phones to motivate us to keep going. A few people jogged right by us, and a woman walked up and down the stairs in metallic leggings, managing to talk on the phone while climbing. We remained unperturbed. Once we reached the top, we high fived, took a few photos and then went on our way.

“This way,” I said, pointing to an open gate in between two cement pillars, one of which had a plaque with The Presidio printed on it.

This is where extensive (obsessive?) online research can come in handy before a trip.

While looking up things to do in San Francisco, one fun and unique attraction that came up was Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line. It’s found inside the Presidio (which is basically a gigantic park full of all kinds of fun things), and is VERY close to the top of the Lyon Street Steps.

0.1 miles to be exact.

We walked in the gate, and then descended into the park. Within a few minutes (or, if you’re interested, just to the left of where Pacific Ave and Presidio Blvd meet) we found the Wood Line.

It was the perfect deep breath after all the stairs. Plus, it was nice and cool inside the canopy of the trees. We walked until the path met back up with the main road, then followed the road through the park.

While walking, I said, “hey, I heard there’s a Yoda statue in this park,” which everyone agreed to go see. We took pictures and then I pointed at a nearby building.

“There’s an R2-D2 in there!” I exclaimed.

We tried to get in but were surprised to find the door was locked. Upon further investigation, we found out this was Lucasfilm a.k.a. the studio that MAKES the Star Wars movies. So not only was the Yoda statue not as strange as we thought, but we had also tried to wander into a major movie studio, and then peered through their windows for a while.

Afterward, we had lunch at Sessions at the Presidio. If you ever go, order the beignets.

From lunch, we got on the bus and headed downtown to visit City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. It is a cool bookshop with multiple levels. All of us being book nerds, we spent a good chunk of time looking around before we each made a purchase and went on our merry way.

Once we got back to our hotel, we just *sat.*

Downtime is an underrated part of travelling. Especially when you are travelling with friends you love dearly, whom you can talk to about anything. We sat in chairs and on beds and talked for a few hours, recovering from the literal miles we had walked over the last two days. It felt like having my friends over for dinner or gossiping in a dorm room. I sat there wondering how I’d gotten so lucky to have these people as my people. To know that I could tell them anything and that they would be there for me. To know that I could text them out of the blue and ask them to go to San Francisco with me for my birthday. and they would all show up to make me feel loved and celebrated. I thought about saying something, but then I worried I might cry.

For dinner, we went to Ace Wasabi Rock-N-Roll Sushi, where we drank Sapporo, repeatedly said, “oh my gosh you have to try this” and then eventually said “I think I need to unzip my pants” before walking back to our hotel and knocking out.

Sunday October 2, 2022

On our last day in San Francisco, we went to breakfast at Home Plate, which again was just a short walk from our hotel. It was our last meal together, the big brunch to end the trip.  We had all booked early afternoon flights, both because they were cheap, and because it gave us the last half of our Sunday at home before we headed back to work.

To me, sitting at breakfast immediately felt like one of those “remember when” moments. The whole trip did, really. Though I’d given my friends a few months notice, it had still felt like a relatively spontaneous vacation. It seemed crazy that we were all able to squeeze in a weekend like this amongst our crazy schedules, and it seemed unlikely that we’d be able to do it again any time soon. So while I tried to be present, the whole trip took on a nostalgic feeling for me right from the beginning.

The next time we take a trip like this, our lives might look very different. And while a part of that is scary—because things are always changing and change is hard and chaotic and a lot to keep up with—it is also exciting. I’m excited to see where we go and how we grow. I’m excited for the future because I know I have a lot of good people in it, and I’m thankful for this trip because it reminded me of that.

Plus, like any good trip, this one was filled with its own one liners. Moments that made us laugh, that don’t make a lot of sense out of context, and that might lose meaning in the years to come. But in the Notes app on my phone, I jotted down a few.

“What is it with the eggs in this city?”

“She rose from the ashes of Georgie.”

“I will never get over seeing ravioli at a liquor store.”

“This is the picture of the century.”

These are their own kind of picture, their own kind of memory. I can still hear and feel the moment they existed in. They will always bring me back here, to San Francisco, where Karl reigned supreme, but we had fun anyway.