San Francisco Days

Chris Isaak – San Francisco Days

I was awakened at five something this morning by the sound of the snowplow going by. Again. It’s hard to sleep through, what with the loud scraping noise followed by that beep! beep! beep! of the truck backing up and then – thunk! – as the plow hits the ground again and more scraping as it turns the corner.

My mother just returned from a week-long visit to San Francisco to see my two sisters who live out there. My oldest sister moved first and slowly lured several other friends and family out to the city by the bay. At the time she lived in a house with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, when there wasn’t any fog. You’d wake up in the morning and go out to the living room and boom! It was easy to see how so many people decided to make the move. All the more so if you’d left behind winter grossness and still had an uncertain number of weeks more of it waiting for you upon your return.

When I was a young teenager, my dad lived in southern California for a couple of years. One summer trip we made a tour of California and saw San Francisco but trips with your parents (my dad, at this time in his life especially) when you’re that age are never your idea of fun. So I consider the first time I really saw the city to be a trip I made in February one year in my twenties.

I’d been living in Maine, losing my mind from all the snow. I tried the power of suggestion* and bought travel magazines and books about Caribbean islands, poured myself steaming hot baths and imagined I was in the tropics. It wasn’t working. My sister a year older than me, who had only a year or two earlier been enticed to leave Maine for San Francisco after experiencing the wow factor of our oldest sister’s place, convinced me I needed a vacation. I’d come to San Francisco for a few days then the two of us would go to Hawaii for five days, after all, San Francisco wasn’t vacation for her, and I’d get my tropical island dream.

My oldest sister picked me up at the airport. It was February. She had one of those little Jeep-like cars with open sides and the air was warm and flowers dotted the hillsides. “Wow,” I said, “it’s like spring.” My sister replied, “It’s not like spring, it is spring.” Suddenly the idea of moving to San Francisco didn’t sound so far-fetched after all.

I didn’t do it, obviously, but I have been out there a couple more times. Once in June for a wedding, when a busy schedule kept me from really doing anything on my own, and then another time in 2007 when I went for a conference. I’d offered to stay with my sisters to make it more affordable for work to cover the trip. My sisters pulled out all the stops again but by then I had two kids and moving that far away wasn’t in the cards. I enjoyed every last minute of being somewhere warm with green and flowering things and on dark mornings when I hear that snowplow go by, I am tempted by the idea all over again.

* It was also somewhere around this time that I went through a Chris Isaak phase. All his songs sound like warm weather. Just saying.


  1. Fred’s eldest sister lives in SF, and has many times tried to entice us out for a visit; I’d love to go, but it’s not in the finances. I was there years ago, for a conference, and enjoyed it thoroughly…especially as we face this latest storm-in-progress, I have wistful thoughts of winning PowerBall and going out West for the Winter.


    1. Yes, our flight budget is usually reserved for visits to Sweden, which is great in the summer, but hardly the antidote for the winter blues.


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