New Beginnings in a New Hood

On Sunday I moved into a new spot in the city, opening up a whole new solar system of San Francisco, obviously filled with ridiculous experiences awaiting me. I mean, my new place is only a 10 minute walk from the Castro, which is a planet of entertainment on its own.

My first smiles sparked by this new universe occurred during my favorite pastimes: running and biking.

My First Run:
As I explored the ins and outs of the winding streets of Corona Heights– obviously by foot in the form of a run– I decided to embark up the massive hill of Twin Peaks and see what it was all about. Leaning forward and going strong up the ascent, I past two men shooting the shit on the sidewalk. We all paused for a moment as I past them, glancing at each other, and then we carried on– me continuing on my run and them resuming their conversation.

About midway up the winding road to the tippy top of Twin Peaks, I started to get a bit nervous. What was 5 minutes ago a beautiful, sunny calm day had turned into a tumultuous fog storm, so thick and intense that I could not see more than 3 feet in front of me. Surveying my trek to my final destination– the peak– I though, ‘Shit, I don’t think cars can see me!’ But despite my concerns, I made it to the top safely, where it was eerily calm, despite the amazingly fast rate of fog flowing past me.

Once reaching the renowned look out of Twin Peaks, where the fog had seemed to break for a moment to give eager tourists a chance to snap a photo of the sweeping landscape of downtown and the Bay below, I saw a hillish mound with a rugged staircase just beyond the lookout and thought, ‘Oh, that view must be killer.’ So I breached from my destination and headed up the staircase, which led me into a cloud of the unknown. The fog was so thick that I had trouble discerning when I actually had reached the top, reminding me of a time when I was traveling through Ireland and stopped at One Man’s Pass along Slieve League for a hike. On this hike, I met a couple and we walked together for a while until I decided to turn back to fetch my dad who was so afraid of heights (Slieve League is one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe) that he couldn’t join our hike. After leaving the couple, I became disoriented in the beautiful fog, triggering a fearful thought that one alluring path may just take me right off the cliff. The disorientation matched with its attraction into an unclear, fog-enveloped path home was like living in a magical, alternate world, one that has for generations inspired folklore and canonical pieces like ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wordrobe’.  That experience in Ireland was so surreal, and it was truly amazing that a hill only a 9-minute run from my house could emulate such an experience.

As I reached the top of the hillish mound and realized that in fact the view was nothing but white fog, I turned back and headed down the staircase, triggering yet again a fear that I might just step down the wrong path and tumble to my demise. I honestly could not see more than 6 inches ahead of me.

As I hope you can assume, I clearly made it down safely to retell this tale.

After the climb up Twin Peaks, I headed down to my home again, passing the two men who were still shooting the shit. As I ran past them, obviously going much faster downhill than when I had earlier past, one shouted, “You know, there’s a speed limit!” That, my friends, was not my first smile (the re-creation of an unbelievable Ireland experience was), but was my first laugh in the new hood. A lot of people shout random things to me when I run, and interestingly many of the things people say, all over the world, are the same. But this one, I hadn’t heard before and it was hilarious.

My First Bike Ride:
Though my new ride to work (from my new house) is not too much farther from my old place, the experiences are wildly different (…well, for the first part of the ride). Bombing it down the HUMONGOUS hill of 17th, I hang a left onto Market and cruise downhill past the palm tree-lined streets of Upper Market. Though on a busy street, the palm trees produce a omniscient sense of serenity, which sadly dissipates once you hit Van Ness. Though it’s sad to see this serenity go, the chaos beyond by Van Ness is surprisingly amusing.

As a rider on new territory, it’s only natural to be overly cautious and observant. Perhaps it was my heightened awareness– looking from side to side– that caught (or attracted) these moments, but regardless it sure was priceless.

Once hitting ‘The Chaos’, something to my right caught my eye. One look led to two, until I could fully appreciate the spectacle. A man, wearing cape, a bright blue and very, very long cape, was riding a bike on the sidewalk. But this was not just any bike. No, this bike was special. The seat was extraordinarily low– perhaps one foot off the ground– and the handlebars were extraordinarily high– perhaps 4 feet (shit, or higher) off the ground. For the extra-special effect, the wind was blowing (side note: Market Street can be a hell of a wind tunnel), causing his bright blue cape to flutter in the wind. Ridiculous.

This gave me a laugh, which carried me two and half blocks until I got my next laugh, which then lasted me 8 blocks (ending upon entering work).

Around 9th & Market a man jumped out into the street and started rapping/singing… just to me. I felt kind of special, you know, a crack addict picked me out of the pack, made sure to stop traffic and sang me a song. That doesn’t happen every day.

This city makes me smile every day.