The fog finally rolled in making the day feel instantly familiar. It was the kind of morning that made us want hot diner coffee and cozy cardigans. And so we went back to what we knew, was was and still is, a part of us. We went back to the old neighborhood, to our old favorite diner. Again. We had to. We couldn’t not return. (We would return many more times during our visit).
This time it was different: we walked in the door and were instantly greeted by our old buddy, our neighborhood friend. He was still there! His face lit up when he recognized ours, a huge smile spread from ear to ear, “HEY! It’s YOU. You’re back! Long time, no see!” We smiled huge goofy grins in return. “YES! We’re BACK! We’re HERE! How have you BEEN?” He ushered us to our usual seats, dropped two white mugs on our table and brought us coffee and skim milk without even asking. He knew us. We immediately felt comforted, acknowledged, relieved, and giddy. We were no longer ghost people haunting the places where we once lived. We were here. We were back.
When I looked out the diner window I saw another familiar face — the person we called “cat man” sitting on his stoop surrounded by about twenty of his well-behaved kitties. I squealed and pointed excitedly at the window, the epitome of a crazy person to anyone walking by, “Look! It’s Cat Man! It’s the man with all the cats! Look at all those kittens!” (Only in SF). And from then on, everything shifted and fell into place and finally felt ‘right’ again.
After breakfast we walked to Glen Canyon Park, our favorite “secret” place. I wanted to walk among the eucalyptus trees and see the fog enshroud the canyon with it’s magical cloak, but my crazy little sentimental heart also wanted to see the grassy field in front of the rec center mural where Sly and I liked to play frisbee, the ungroomed hidden trails where I once picked wild blackberries (shhh…), and the rocky cliffs that were perfect for picnics and lying out on sunny days. We loved this place when it was ours — our hidden slice of nature whenever we wanted to escape the chaotic world.
The weird thing about visiting a place where you once lived is that one doesn’t quite know what to *do* to fill the day, the activities of daily life being so different from the activities of a visitor. Should we go to Alcatraz? Coit Tower? Lombard Street? Or should we return to the places we loved, visiting memories as if they were old friends? It was impossible to not associate memories with places that were so familiar and yet we wanted new memories of us in present tense. So we thought to ourselves, what would we do today if we were still living here, if this were any other day in our lives?
Ice cream is what.
We drove to J-town and stuffed our faces with Japanese style crepes from Belly good Cafe and Crepes (I highly recommend my personal favorite: #22–strawberry ice cream with strawberry jam, cream cheese yogurt, condensed milk, whipped cream and cornflakes–which I order every single time without fail. I haven’t been able to try anything else on the menu because I love #22 that much).
Thank you Diner Friend, thank you Cat Man, thank you fog, thank you smell of eucalyptus, thank you delicious thousand+ calorie crepe with all the fixin’s. Thank you for returning my SF to me.