San Francisco – I walk like someone waiting

Grace Cathedral-2

I walk from my hotel to a park on Nob Hill, steep above the city, where a three-hour walking tour starts at one o’clock. It is a fogless day and the sun is burning.

The park is opposite Grace Cathedral, a hollow pastiche of Middle Ages architecture with Norman towers, Gothic arches and a copy of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth inside a flamboyant Gothic doorway that mimics Florence’s Baptistry and faces east, not west. Its bells peal off descending semitones over three mournful octaves. I walk away.

The guide comes and after three days of walking I’m relieved she is fair skinned, greatly overweight and wearing a shadeless Florentine hat thing that flops on her head like gathered velvet. Then the eighty-year old Richard and his sexagenarian partner, Richard, from Palm Springs shuffle up and we spend most of the afternoon walking downhill in the shade.

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San Francisco – I walk and I walk

 

San Francisco

“A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Gertrude Stein, born 1874 in Pittsburg, raised in Oakland.

***

I walk and I walk and I walk and I walk.

I walk on the steep carved hills. I walk to the tops of the hills and over the tops of hills. I walk down the hills. I let the busses go past. I do not get on the streetcars. I hear the cables whirring below the tracks. I cross streets of black veined tar that fills the fault lines of tired and rubbed out roads.

I walk on the pavements and pass by many people. I walk along long streets of three-storey houses, their walls conjoined, their textured and coloured facades and the shapes of their windows all different.

I walk into the cafes on Columbus Avenue that make thick syrup espressos and listen to the talk of animated men getting older. ‘Can you imagine having Eugene O’Neil as a father-in-law? Holy shit.’ The best coffee is made by quiet men in black cotton shirts.

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