Saturday, September 6, 2014

Home Again

I loved my short but excellent trip to San Francisco. I could have easily left my heart there, but instead I left one of my contact lenses. (I'd swear I saw it floating in its case before I left for the airport from my lovely Victorian B&B, but I must have been hallucinating. I will return to the B&B someday and search the crannies of the pink-velvet davenport where I was sitting at the time.)

My chief souvenir of the trip is the head cold I mentioned previously. This was likely a gift from Charlotte, the toddler seated behind me on the flight from Boston. She was one of many little kids waiting to board the plane, but the only one shrieking, screaming, and running around out of control.

Some witch put an airline curse on me long ago. I've grown resigned to it and immediately pegged Charlotte as my very near neighbor for the flight. I would have bet money on it; I just wondered if she'd be beside, behind, or in front of me. She spent our six hours together kicking my seat and reaching around to grab my arm with her sticky little hand. (I yelped in surprise the first time and heard, "Now Charlotte, let's try to be nice....") A multi-talented child, she managed to kick my seat while simultaneously opening and closing the window shade 97 million times AND screaming, crying, and coughing many very wet coughs — never covering her mouth because she was simply too busy. The next day, I had a sore throat, chills, and felt exhausted.

At least I had this for consolation (there's sound):


My husband had sent it to me while I was at Logan, and I watched it again and again.

When I get a cold my nose stops working and I can't breathe or sleep without a struggle. But I had a hectic schedule in San Francisco — a family wedding with activities running from 6 am until late at night. I needed to stay upright and upbeat... or at least semi-conscious. I took lots of Sudafed, Advil, and Allegra, and carried a big box of tissues (purloined from my room) everywhere. I did pretty well, with only a few collapses. I skipped a day trip to Napa wineries and was too zonked out to attend the 9 o'clock dinner show that night, featuring transgender babes and drag queens, in the Haight. (I heard later that it was not exactly ideal family entertainment. And my niece's car was burglarized.) I fell asleep on the grand marble staircase inside City Hall as we waited for the ceremony to begin. I skipped a couple of hours of post-reception clean-up, too, because I Was Dead. (I had done my share of set-up for the dinner; I am the only family member who can correctly set formal tables for ten with butter knives, favors, and two kinds of glassware.)

Most of the time, though, I was ready for active duty as an auntie — although it was necessary to make numerous deviations from my usual, healthier diet to keep going. There were daily cookies or chocolate-hazelnut croissants (and some marvelous beet/goat cheese/citrus salads) from La Boulange.

My niece was the perfect accomplice. She is passionate about food, and I was compelled to consume her favorite donuts, her favorite ice cream, her favorite fried artichoke hearts (in Monterey), her favorite butter cookies, one of her favorite burritos, her favorite pizza, and several pupusas, which were not her favorite but the closest I could find while wandering alone in the Mission. If I hadn't eaten all that, it would have been impolite. We also made a pilgrimage to In-N-Out Burger, which was a surprising disappointment — our Shake Shack and Tasty Burger have them beaten by a mile. My final marching orders were to try her favorite beignets (chocolate, crawfish) but getting there would have made me late to her wedding, so those are on the list for next time, as soon as I locate that errant contact lens.

We enjoyed a sumptuous feast at her reception (no surprise), including roast chicken, salmon, pumpkin ravioli, honey-garlic meatballs, mashed potatoes, salad, bourbon-glazed Brussels sprouts, and her favorite bread....

"Feed a cold," as they say. I gained three pounds in five days.

After an uneventful red-eye flight home (two yelling toddlers in the seats in front of me), I'm still taking pills, feeling out of it, and sleeping a lot. I miss all the fabulous, reasonably priced food I discovered all over San Francisco. And I loved how the people there are about 300 times friendlier to strangers than we are here. I adored all the fabulous, fancy Victorian houses, loaded with character and charm that's usually sadly lacking in New England. I will not miss climbing up hills streets with insanely steep inclines and hundreds of stairs, but at least there's a great view of the Pacific and/or the city below when your vision clears and you can breathe again.

I have yet to look at my photos but I promise there'll be a few interesting postcards one of these days.

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