Save Me San Francisco
The smell of yeast, fresh baked bread, various loaves of shape and size being pulled from the piping hot ovens and being transported by basket to the glass encasement at the counter. Customers elbowing their way to the front of the pack to get their take, two baguettes stuffed under their arm, a coffee to go and they are on their way out into a blanket of warm sunlight that envelopes Barcelona in such an elegant splendor, one would question the season. Only days until November the weather more reminiscent of a bright spring morning in mid-May, but this is autumn. Trees are changing color and a cool breeze greet those passing by. Reality sets in. Vibrant gourds and pumpkins stock the shelves at local shops and seasonal produce, most notably the mushroom, are available at the market. Autumn has arrived, even though the temperature begs to differ.
A lazy Friday morning, edging close to noon, it seems I have become Spanish in nature. Getting a late start to my day, I sat down at Baluard Bakery with a cortado, a deep roasted shot of espresso blended with a splash of warm, frothy milk set the stage. My imagination wondered. My mind set adrift, memories swept by like a film real, recreating scenes from past travels. Taking me back in time, one memory in particular came to light. I followed my thoughts retracing my footsteps in a city I have always adored. Wandering along the picturesque piers that are iconic of the San Francisco Bay. I guess it was the smell, the fresh baked bread, the hustle and bustle of bakers working like bees. I remember walking by Boudin Bakery on one of my many visits to the city. It was this occasion, the one I pictured in my mind, that I could smell the aromas of clam chowder wafting through the air from a distant street vendor, calling out to tourist, with cameras slung over their shoulder and guide books in hand. The Wharf, a magical and vibrant place to be in the morning, as the notorious San Francisco fog slowly burns off, like a mystical haze that slowly uncovers the wonderful, eclectic city on the bay. A wonderful mix of artists, businessmen with newspapers stuffed into their briefcases, and nomads calling this place home, if only for a little while.
Boudin Bakery was always a favorite stopover, grabbing a quick coffee, loaf of sourdough to be devoured with an excellent glass of Californian wine and a local cheese found at any one of the regional purveyors at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. A simple delight that made the chaos and fervor in the city streets subside to a murmur, as I savored this simple indulgence, a gastronomic pleasure. How our memories are marked by these rare occasions, these simple wonders, these feasts of quality, not quantity.
Sitting back in a comfortable over-sized leather chair at Praktik Bakery, back in Barcelona, Spain. Thousands of miles away from San Francisco, I contemplated the profound meaning of life. How on earth did I get here, and where am I going to do with my life? It wasn’t like I was trying to decipher the Big Bang Theory, (I am not or will ever be a scientist) but it was a question of great depth and moreover stress. I didn’t have all the answers. The possibilities racked my brain. Sometimes having too many options is a curse rather than a blessing. Relinquishing control and need to know, I found peace in just being. Such a simple memory invoked an overwhelming sense of happiness. Even though I found myself in a state of limbo, not knowing where my life would lead, what direction my career would take or where my husband and I would eventually call home, I realized there was no prize for searching for answers that would soon relieve themselves over time.
Distraught by my thoughts over the past few weeks, wondering and worrying about the future, this moment of conscious memory was just what I needed as a distraction and remedy for my insecurities. It was a glimpse back at my past. A point of reference acknowledging just how far I had come. Whatever lay around the next bend only time would tell, and that reaching, trying to figure it all out was an awful waste of time and energy. Being in the moment, enjoying the fragrant aromas was quite frankly just where I needed to be. Soon, it too, would be a distant memory. Life changes. It wasn’t so long ago that I was in my beloved San Francisco. One decision leads to another. In a string of events, I found myself living around abroad first in Belgium and now in Spain.
Tomorrow will not be the same as today. In the face of uncertainty, all I have within my power is to cherish the present moment, to be here now. The rest time will tell.
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