On the day we set out for Golden Gate Park it was brilliantly sunny in Union Square. We left the dim, moody hipster wood lobby of our hotel, squinting, temporarily blinded by the brilliant blue sky, crisp whitewashed buildings and sparkly concrete. The air was still cool in the shade, but the sun warmed our faces and forced us to peel off our outermost layers, jackets and sweaters stuffed in bags or tied around our waists for later.
We found a sweet European Café, we felt faux Parisian as we sat around small wooden tables amid stacks of German- and Italian-language newspapers and imported French fashion magazines. We drank rich lattes out of huge ceramic bowl-like cups and ate granola, fresh fruit, eggs and bacon.
(For the sake of keeping it idyllic and romantic, I’m leaving out the part where our waiter fouled up our order several times, bringing Maria scrambled eggs instead of fried, forgetting our coffee and orange juice, and double-charging us on our tab.)
We eavesdropped on our neighbors, a thin, nervous man with a shaved head, long, knotted fingers clutching French newspapers all turned to the sports section. A cycling enthusiast, perhaps, with high, sculpted calf muscles and lean, long thighs. He was explaining complicated concepts to his dining companion – things like “Sports Bars – they have lots of TVs.”
He was speaking to an Asian woman, young, slight, long, black hair and a hat perched jauntily on her head. She nods.
We read the paper, we relaxed, we caffeinated.
Then, we walked.
So much of San Francisco can be hoofed.
I love a city that requires layers. I love it that, any minute, we can be baking in the sun or buffeted by chilly wind. I love it that, as we walk, we enter into banks of fog that masquerade as cloudy days. Cloudy days that can be escaped by cab.
We went to Golden Gate Park, a massive oasis of vegetation that was shrouded in chilly fog.
We had tea in the Japanese tea garden, where young Japanese women serve tourists wrapped in cheesy kimonos, looking bored and resentful.
I was pleased that my fortune cookie, accompanied by some lovely crispy salty snacks, contained a socialite’s dream of a fortune.
Maria’s cookie didn’t contain a fortune.
We chose not to view that as a bad sign.