Visual diary: San Francisco (with a hint of Berkeley)

To continue yesterday’s mixed diary post:

I forgot to take a photo of my haircut. But while I was getting it, I asked my stylist, Sarah, whether she had any advice for finding a hairstylist while we’re traveling. She did. One tip: I should ask prospective salons whether their stylists are proficient in razor cutting. I am a complete doofus about hair, so it never would have occurred to me to ask that question (and I only vaguely realized that this is what she’s been doing on my hair). I have been amazed by Sarah’s expertise for years now. She’s an artist.

I could take a photo of my hair now, but I am writing this from a crowded Whole Foods and it’s a little more exposure than I want at the moment.

After my haircut I thought it would be nice to swing by the UC Berkeley campus (my alma mater) for a little while. I parked along Bancroft Way and entered campus next to the dance studio where I took modern dance for a year. Last week Belinda and I reminisced happily about that studio during our Gamble Garden outing; thinking of her, I stopped in my walk and snapped a photo. This morning I uploaded the image and decided I love its mix of lines and colors and (a)symmetry.

UC Berkeley dance studio

After I left campus I drove across the bay to San Francisco, where I entertained myself for a couple of hours until my friend Kay got home from work. I ate two organic strawberries at the farmers’ market in the Castro district, browsed pretty sofas at A&G Merch, and wrote nine pages in my journal (with a piece of pie for sustenance) at a bakery that has been around since the year I was born. The bakery had One condoms in the restroom. That made me wonder.

Pie, water, and journal

(I really miss that cafe right now. This Whole Foods I’m writing in has really uncomfortable bar stools. The seats cut into my thighs in all the wrong places.)

Not long after I left the bakery, Kay called, and we met up and walked along Castro Street to get pizza for dinner. We stopped into some more cute shops on the way. This morning I was inspired to start a new Pinterest board to document them — and another new board to document cafés I like, now that I’ve started doing more work in such places. Pinterest is really helping me make good my resolve to record more of my visual experience. It’s also becoming an addiction. When I saw a cool drawing at Little Otsu or lacy carved eggs at Prairie Collective, instead of whipping out my camera to take a photo, I whipped out my journal (the same one you see in the photo above) and wrote down the artist’s name so I could Google and pin the piece later.

Kay and I ate our pizza and then walked to the rooftop deck of her friend’s apartment building, where we found an outdoor loveseat with cushions. “This is what I really love to do,” she said, and pulled two footrests toward the loveseat, replacing the coffee table she’d pushed out of the way.

“Put your feet up?” I asked, doing so. “Yes,” she said. We were both wearing boots: mine black leather and suede, hers brown leather cowboys.

Two sets of booted feet, propped up on a rooftop deck

I lightened that photo so you can see the boots; actually, the sky was deep black and you could hardly see a thing. All around were the lights of the city: the yellow-glowing windows of the hospital to our left, the swooping suspension lights of the Bay Bridge, the dim structures of Oakland in the distance, the blatant red sign of a Safeway down the hill. We talked about cities we have known, about travel, about work, and about the meaning of life. It was one of those conversations that feels both momentous and somehow outside of time. We sat until we shivered and yawned, the wind finally getting to us.

San Francisco by night

We got up, gathered our things, and turned around to go back into the building. Then I realized that the narrow walkway and the door that led back inside had no walls on either side: the doorway appeared to stand alone, like a door in a dream, a portal to the unknown.

Door by night

On the way home, the freeways were near deserted. I sped along 280, singing along to Incubus and Fiona Apple. I don’t know if this happens elsewhere, but sometimes in the Bay Area on a rainy night, the sky lights up all depthless black canopy and pale magnificent clouds of grey. It’s like a daytime view at night, with the colors all unfamiliar. At one point the sky-view to my east was so incredible I almost veered onto the shoulder, looking at it, and (I confess) wishing I could Pin it.

This morning I woke up with Incubus’s “Talk Show on Mute” in my head.