my heart in san francisco

For my 24th birthday, I took a road trip to San Francisco with Felipe. Back in December, I took a solo road trip to San Francisco during an emotional low point; I was trying to reverse the painful death of my creative self. How appropriate it was, then, to celebrate another year of life in the same place (and from a very different vantage point at that)!

How easy it is to leave your heart in a town like this. Although…my stomach was the one that benefited most from this visit. We ate only at vegetarian/vegan restaurants, and there are plenty to choose from in this town. Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre were my favorites of all the places we tried. At Cafe Gratitude, food becomes an experience that far extends the community dining table. With menu items like “I Am Bright” (kombucha) and “I Am Elated” (spinach enchiladas), guests affirm themselves with every order — encouraging positive energy flow as well as healthy gastrointestinal flow! (Yes, I went there.) At Gracias Madre, I tried vegan Mexican food for the first time, and let me tell you — I might not ever switch back. I had mushroom enchiladas with vegan sour cream and red sauce with a side of kale and refried beans. Both of these places grow their own food at the Be Love Farm, which encourages sustainability and battles overconsumption. For someone who recently declared herself an herbivore, this city was like a Disneyland for my newfound life choice.

We veered off the beaten tourist’s path and visited the Marin Headleads for an alternative view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not too far away was Rodeo Beach, which was quiet and unpopulated when we stopped by. We also drove over the Bay Bridge to Oakland to visit the Redwood Regional Park, where the Art in Nature Festival was. Artists came together to paint, sing, dance, and rejoice in the forest. We managed to film a video there that I’ll be posting up on YouTube soon. I’d say we got equal doses of city and nature, a perfect blend.

For my birthday, Felipe organized a little scavenger hunt WHILE I WAS SLEEPING and woke me up early on Sunday morning to have me hunt for my gifts. Am I lucky or what?

The thing that made our trip most unique was where we stayed. Opal offered her beautifully decorated “post-apocalyptic gypsy room” in her 1895 abode. This house pre-dates the famous 1906 earthquake that destroyed the majority of San Francisco. Opal is an artist who frequently hosts travelers passing through town, and she couldn’t have been a better host. Her house is filled with art and artifacts. The room we stayed in even had a closet full of creative costumes that she has collected, which all of her guests are privy to try on!

San Francisco has only recently become a getaway city for me. When I was little, it was a city to which we took day trips with my family when we visited aunts and uncles in San Jose. Now, it has taken on a new form in my life. A city of constant inspiration, of repair. It’s a city that has kept up its end of the bargain in its relationship with the nature that surrounds it. Whether it’s the fresh bay air, the quiet woods in the periphery, or the abundance of healthy food, I cannot help but feel cleansed after this visit. San Francisco, you’ve been there for me during low points and life highs. You have my heart, and I’ll be back soon to reclaim it.


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