Friday, May 09, 2008

shoesing a city

I love my home, Texas-- I really do. I have spent about 27 of my 31 years there, and it will always have a special place in my heart. It's comfortable and sensible in all the right ways. But when I moved to New York in 2004 it was in hopes of capturing those flutters I feel walking up the subway stairs into the skyscrapers of Manhattan... and capturing them for keeps. New York has an energy all its own- just a glimpse of the skyline can excite me. But New York was a fling-- she couldn't provide me what I wanted in a city-mate. New York was was a fancy and beautiful pair of high heels that pinched my toes after a while. I left in search of something else-- namely, a solid relationship with a city that could still provide me with the butterflies that drew me there in the first place. Something between a sensible loafer and a daring stiletto, if you will. And I have truly started to feel that way about San Francisco.

When I walk out of my house and catch the bridge peeking out of the fog. When I get to the top of Mount Sutro and can see the little colorful houses all lined up side-to-side, from the Bay to the Ocean. The smell of eucalyptus and fir when I get within blocks of Golden Gate Park. The sound of sea gulls and smell of salt air, even among the tall buildings of commercial downtown. The slew of Asian grannies climbing onto the #6 bus with their canvas bags stuffed full of fresh vegetables from the farmer's market. The food-- my Lord, the food! In cheesy college relationship terms, I'll always care about Dallas, I had a lusty fling with New York, but I'm in love with San Francisco. She's my chuck taylors, comfy enough for every day but still has enough style to keep me interested. She is for keeps.

Traveling gives me the opportunity to explore other cities, and see what it is that other people see in them. I don't think I've ever made it a secret that I am not really a fan of New Orleans, where I spent my last 7 days. There is plenty to dislike- the heat and humidity, the cockroaches and caterpillars, the constant search for a healthy meal, the fact that the trashiest place in town is also the hottest tourist attraction. (Stupid Americans.) But New Orleans also has a certain charm- the jazz, obviously, and the architecture, and the slow-moving pace of a solid people who can't be rushed into commerce and industry. This trip wasn't any grander for me than previous ones, but yesterday I had a day to myself, so I downloaded Ryan Burrage's Toulouse Street Blues onto my ipod, and set out determined to find a New Orleans I could love.

I went to Uptown and found a yoga studio. A noon class on a weekday- jam-packed. I was so surprised! The owner/teacher also offers the class in French, which I found charming. I had lunch with my book at a Lebanese cafe. I walked with an older Jewish woman who grew up in Queens and settled in the South, where she became a vegetarian and walks 10 miles a day. I rode the St. Charles streetcar from end to end. I did my laundry, went to a cookout where I ate crunchy corn on the cob and fresh-scrubbed red potatoes, and decided that maybe I judged New Orleans too quickly. I can see what other people see in New Orleans. I can even understand why someone might want to live there.

But I think I'll stick with San Francisco.


Anonymous Tom said...

I almost cried when I read this. Remember those phone calls debating this decision? My heart is warmed.

Congratulations - I know the two of you are going to be so happy together. :-)

May 10, 2008 2:35 PM  
Blogger J.T. said...

It's hard to be romantic about New Orleans, because New Orleans is like family, and that would be creepy.

The Big Easy is like the family that everybody thinks they are better than. The redneck aunts, uncles and parents they feel like they've outgrown, or transcended in their life, and talk trash about to their friends. But when it's time to go home again, for whatever reason, something sentimental always grabs you unexpectedly. And the food - holy crap, the food - it's a blessing and a curse. You don't really want to leave, but you know there's no way you could stay.

May 12, 2008 9:41 AM  
Blogger iamchanelle said...

wow, jamie, this was really moving.
i'm thinking you might need to write a book on all your travels, and i would be first in line to read it.

love you!

May 15, 2008 10:17 AM  
Blogger evanhoyt said...

I miss you, faraway friend. And I'm glad you've found your home.

I love you.

June 01, 2008 10:34 AM  
Blogger schmoop100 said...

It is funny that I just read this today and I think you are in New Orleans now... anything change since the last time you were there? BTW, you are a great writer, keep it up...

October 26, 2009 12:42 PM  

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