I am well aware of the fact that I am not a City Girl, but I always thought I could hang in the city – at least for a short stay. Chris and I have always wanted to live in an upstairs city apartment over a downtown storefront or office, and that is still something we would like to do in a different season of our lives. But Charlotte and Greenville and Charleston are more my speed, I discovered…
On our vacation, Chris and I drove in to San Francisco about 6:00 pm on Sunday evening. It had been a big weekend in the city, and people were everywhere. They were walking in front of the car as we were scrambling to find the hotel and avoid driving the wrong direction on one-way streets. Fortunately, there were no pedestrian roadkills, but it was close more than a few times. The city was immediately noisy and busy and crowded and loud and impolite, and I was overwhelmed. I think I experienced sensory overload where I just crawled into myself and decided I hated it! It was overcast and gloomy (I couldn’t even see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge as we approached because it was cloaked in clouds). We had a quiet – almost despondent- dinner in Sausalito.
This place was foreign to me – not so much because it was a new setting. Foreign because there was nothing familiar about the people. How I live my life couldn’t be more different than that of a city dweller: the pace, the noise, the hardness. For the first time during our trip I was constantly aware of being outside the Bible Belt, outside of the South, outside of my world. When I traveled to England, I expected to feel like a foreigner. I did not expect to feel that heightened sense of alien”ness” that I did in SF.
I require my morning 20 oz DP (Diet Pepsi) as close to my awakening as possible, so the next morning, on our walk to this awesome breakfast place, I stopped in to the corner Walgreens and something very unexpected happened. I was washed in the comfort of being somewhere familiar; I realized the hilarity of it but I just stood in the front of the store and breathed in the familiarity of it. I silently staked out that place as my retreat for comfort if that city threatened to crash in on me.
Then another funny thing happened; I got my city legs. I enjoyed my DP, had some phenomenal pancakes at a legendary restaurant, and I was ready to dive in. I got my city legs, and Chris and I proceeded to do it up. We could walk to any store imaginable; we walked to some fantastic meals; we rode trolley cars and brushed death with every turn in the backseat of a taxi (I happen to think that’s the most death-defying stunt you can do in any city – take a taxi). I put on my hard self and smiled less; not because I was unhappy – I was having a ball.
That’s just how you roll in the city. I bought some sunglasses that cover most of my face, put on my loud yellow jacket and my black wedges, and I enjoyed being City Cookie.
The moral of this story is that I am too sheltered in my own little life. SF is a great city, and we had a fabulous time. And I was genuinely surprised by my initial reaction to it.
So if you see me ridin’ through Flo-town in a blindingly yellow jacket, with enormous sunglasses, and I keep angrily blowing the horn at other motorists, just know that I’m still decompressing from the trip.
And if you see my loitering in local Walgreens, just know that I may be reminiscing about our trip…
And the truth of the matter is that City Cookie would love to get her nose pierced, but Flo-town Cookie could never pull that off…