Per Andrew’s suggestion, I drove over to the mission district my first morning in San Francisco for some delicious Mexican food. I hadn’t bothered with breakfast, which made the 10AM soft taco at Taqueria Cancun that much more delicious. I continued up and down the district, checking out the various sites Andrew had pointed me toward. I was still full from the taco when I arrived at yet another restaurant for a pupusa, a filled El Salvadorian tortilla that reminded me of Indian naan. I was stuffed, but it was worth it.
My car was in a two hour zone, so after too much food followed by some unusual high-end ice cream, I drove up to Buena Vista Park and lucked in to an unrestricted space right next to a park path. I walked up the hill, snapping pictures each time a new view came into focus. When I got to the top, I briefly considered taking a nap on the grass, but realized I hadn’t put on enough sunscreen for that. Believing by some form of magic that I wouldn’t need sunscreen just to walk around in the sunshine, I moved down the hill toward the highly recommended Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.
I wandered for a bit, lost in the residential area. I made it to Ashbury Street, and having seen nothing of note thus far I headed north towards what I later came to realize was The Haight. This was clearly the place everyone meant when they told me to visit Haight-Ashbury. I recognized it instantly. Mostly I recognized it because I used to live near it, or rather the exact carbon copy that exists in Seattle. From the thrift stores to the record shops to the Whole Foods on the corner, The Haight was brick for brick the same as Broadway on Capitol Hill. If there was any difference it was that The Haight had tourist shops.
I know Haight-Ashbury has history. I know it used to be “The Place.” When I was growing up, I was infatuated with the counter-culture of the 1960s. I used to think I was born 40 years too late, since everything would have been so much better if I lived back then. I thought there was nothing left to fight for, no civil rights or Vietnam. I was wrong of course, but I was twelve.
Over time I became less infatuated and more disillusioned with the Baby Boomer generation as it became clear that their failures could be just as monumental are their victories. So while 12-year-old Katrina would have been in absolute heaven staring at tie-dye Grateful Dead shirts and peace symbol necklaces, 27-year-old Katrina can only mourn both what The Haight once was, and what she used to believe about such places. I guess the consequence of changing the world is that you make yourself commonplace. As I made my way towards Golden Gate Park I tried to picture a flowerchild braiding the hair of “her old man,” but the thought was interrupted by a man reporting to two police officers that someone on the corner just offered to sell him crack.
Somewhat dismayed, I walked for too long in Golden Gate Park. I had this silly notion of going to the nearest lake and back, not realizing it would take me over an hour to get to that point in the massive park. I did manage to go through the beautiful AIDS memorial grove, and even managed that nap that I apparently now was able to take, despite nothing changing since my previous decision that it was a bad idea to sleep in the sun.
My evening ended at dinner with a few of my dad’s friends, and a hilarious incident that I won’t repeat here for their sake. I drove back to the Circus Loft, presently surprised that the toll on the bridge only goes one way. You pay to get into San Francisco, but no one cares when you leave.