Sunday, March 28, 2010

October 17, 2009 Day 8: The Long Good-bye

There is a Brazilian song, “A Felicidade” translates to “Happiness”. The first line is “Tristeza nao tem fim, felicidade sim”, translated “Sadness has no end, happiness does.” I love this song for that one profound sentence. I translate it as a mandate to celebrate every moment of my life, enjoy to the fullest, the small and large joys as well as my cloudy, rainy, dark days.
Today was my last day in San Francisco, my holiday ended.  I woke up to a foggy, grey morning, reflecting my mood. I don’t get tired of being away from home. I carry my home with me regardless of where I am. Home is where I take my shoes off; rest my traveling feet.  So when I am having such a great, extraordinary time, I hate to have it end. I actually feel sad, a brooding longing can envelope me and I become moody and pensive. I had spent the night packing, because my flight was supposed to leave at 130pm and I prefer to be early at the airport than run through the concourse. So I knew I had a small window of opportunity.
The small length of time I spent here came down to how many more meals I had left. So this morning was my final meal. I had already had breakfast at the small neighborhood diner across the street from my hotel. I had thought I would go back.  Then I remembered a tweet that I had seen last week and saved. It had a list of restaurants in the San Francisco area with an ocean view.  I tried to look them up on the internet but none of them mentioned a breakfast menu.
For all the technology I’ve used traveling with my laptop, cruising the internet on my iPhone, guiding myself via GPS on my phone, it was the lonely, yellow pages still in it’s usual place in the bedside table drawer, under the Bible.
It was there that The Cliff House mentions a breakfast menu. So a new idea crept into my head. I was tentatively planning on walking around the neighborhood to eat at another hole in the wall, I had seen Jenny’s Bar & Restaurant the other night when I was walking to Kimo’s to see The Ruse. When I saw that place, I a hiccup in my heart rate to see that name; some silly affectation I’ve developed lately, akin to a Pavlovian response.
But why don’t I have breakfast at a restaurant with a view of the ocean? I was looking for that at Fisherman’s Wharf yesterday. I always look for a place overlooking an ocean.  So I called the concierge and arranged for me to leave my luggage at the hotel, have the car service bring it and pick me up at 1100 and take me directly to the airport.
It was about 810am, I was showered, dressed and set to go by 830am. I took my bags down -I hate waiting for the bellhop, when I’m ready to go, I’m ready  to go. The Adagio Hotel forces you to call and have ice brought up to your room. I felt compelled to tip every time.

The doorman flagged down a cab to take me to The Cliff House,  it is on the other side of the peninsula straight down Geary St.  Since it was a Sunday, the traffic was sparse but the fog was thick. The cabbie started out silent but when I started answering his prodding questions, we started another conversation. He spoke with an accent, eastern European, I didn’t probe.  Then he started rambling on about the city corruption, the need for national health care reform. I don’t instigate that conversation, simply because it is a heated political debate. I don’t have random conversations with strangers about politics and religions. They have always been hot button topics.

I got dropped off around 845am, The Cliff House was still closed, there was a line of approximately 10 people already waiting at the door. That wasn’t a lot of people, so I knew I’d get a table. I wandered off to the side of the restaurant to stare at the sea. Even the cabbie got out of his cab and stretched and looked around a bit. I know how you can live in the city and yet not see all its finer points.
The Cliff House, a restaurant on the edge of a cliff. I wanted a nice restaurant overlooking the ocean, one last final hurrah. I was seated so early I had the privilege of a table by a window overlooking the Seal Rocks. It was one of those mystical moments when you sit down and you know you are where you want to be right at that moment. It was an “exhale” moment.
Because I waited so long before I sat down to write this blog (the sadness of leaving my magical mystery tour and returning to the daily grind wounded me to silence), I’ll have to fill in with my tweets, I was so excited.
>>A foggy day brings out the poet in me. - 901am
>>I need my coffee first  - 901am
I asked the waitress what she would suggest for breakfast and I followed her recommendation. I had crab Dungeness and perfect poached eggs. It was truly a perfect ending to my perfect stay.
>>Eggs and Dungeness crab w/fruit & potatoes served w/ airy delicate handmade popovers! Nom nom nom! - 918am
>>Homemade popovers, I can feel my sugar rise, but I don't care. First time I've eaten it, another wish come true ;) - 926am
>>Perfect poached eggs!  - 928am
>>If you visit SFO and want to eat brkfast at Cliffhouse. They open at 9am, I got a sweet window seat. Now there is a 20min wait 4 a window seat -  935am
From what I understand about The Cliff House, it is a reservation only kind of high-end restaurant.  Where I ate was called the Bistro and I guess I was just lucky. I didn’t need a reservation and I just strolled in based on a whim.

>>The coffee at Cliff House is so wonderfully strong, my teeth feel loose & I want to dive into the sea!  -- 951am
They have really good coffee. I should have asked if they sell it.

>>The fog is tenacious, but the Sun King accedes to no one! Here comes the Sun! - 1017am
I watched the sun banish the stubborn fog, it was Mother Nature's special effects.
>>I like to think that the fog too is pouting at my departure. Yesterday was a perfect sunny day.  -1054am
>>San Francisco gave me a sad, misty kiss good bye. A kiss that will linger through the time until I can return - 1056am
I lingered over strong hot coffee as the sun battled the morning fog. I grew melancholy, for this adventure ends; as the fog granted me a misty kiss goodbye.

After breakfast, there was now a waiting list for tables, the tables with a window were highly prized. As I walked out, I saw several ladies dressed in pink T-shirts & hats. San Francisco was holding it’s Breast Cancer awareness walk/run. Considering how my trip started out, this was just another moment of synchronicity.

I strolled along the sidewalk, wanting to soak in the salt water tang and listen to the ocean’s roaring song as they battered the cliffs. There was a soft mist that pervaded. I was enthralled by the roaring waves; I couldn’t record enough of the sounds. I hovered trying to get that one shot when the waves would spray into the air as it slapped against the rocks.

I felt the grey fog more than I saw it; it was nature’s expression of my somber, pensive mood. I wasn’t ready to go home. But when I came around and came back up the sidewalk, the car was already waiting. I knew it couldn’t last forever.
I got on the plane but my adventure wasn’t over just yet. I talked with my seatmate, Dennis from New Zealand. He gave me the newspaper he had brought with him from Auckland so I could read the goings on in his hometown. He told me that they get 30days of holiday. So for two weeks starting at Christmas, the entire country shuts down and goes on holiday.
I always assumed the nickname Kiwi was for the fruit. He told me that when it was first introduced into the country when he was a boy, it came from China so they called it Chinese gooseberries. But a marketing ploy convinced the world to call it a kiwi.
He and I had a great conversation, again. Perhaps someone else would be bored to tears being shown a map of the world so we can talk about how long it takes to get to Auckland, I wasn't. Dennis was going to Chicago for an accountant’s conference. He said it’s just an excuse to travel to great locations and basically just gab, ostensibly to drum out business for their companies. I guess I really didn’t want the random conversations to end. But eventually the plane had to land.
When the plane landed, we all jumped up and clogged the aisles, impatient to flee. The woman in front of me looked up at me and stared at me; to the point where I couldn’t ignore her. She looked at me as if she was deciding if she knew me. She had that same burning look the other woman on Day 2. She too was an older woman, salt and pepper hair.  She said to me. “So impatient.” I smiled and said I just want to go home. She replied. “I’m a long way from home.” Home was Sao Paolo, Brazil. The hair on the back of my neck sprang up.
We spoke of my love for Brazilian music and she told me I needed to visit. This year seemed to have flown and I needed to use my vacation days or risk losing it. And every year I always go somewhere I’ve never been and do something I’ve never done. When I was first discussing where I was going to go for my vacation I was invited to stay on a couch in Morro Island–in Sao Paolo. Synchronicity; coincidence?

I don’t know where I’m going next, I don’t know what I’ll do, I just hope I’m ready for whatever will come my way. 

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