After travelling for six months, J-man and I learnt never to judge a city by the way it looks when you arrive. The international bus station in Berlin is a cement wasteland in the middle of a beautiful, mysterious city. The train into Venice gives you a tour of the romantic city’s bowels, rushing you past the sewerage plant and factories. The station in Sofia is a dark death chamber filled with groups of toothless men smoking cigars and eyeing you off like they’re figuring out how to bundle you into their boot and sell you into sex slavery … OK, so that’s a pretty accurate indication of what that city is like.
The only place where the first impression was the right one was San Francisco. The day we flew in, a couple of weeks before Christmas, it was cold and drizzling lightly. We drove into the city, pointing out the views of the bay, the tall terraces, the colourful rows of houses and the crazy-scary hills. The airline had lost our bags, but our sweet taxi driver was playing Buddhist chants and I felt calm, inspired and happy.
I will conveniently skip over the following four days where I totally, irrationally flipped out over loss of said bags, walked through the Tenderloin district alone and in tears and spent an inordinate amount of time crying and watching 16 and Pregnant. I’m pretty sure J-man spent an inordinate amount of time researching the best route to Reno for a quickie divorce.
The reason why I’m writing about San Francisco now, after all these months, is because I’ve actually been unsure whether I can do it justice. Here, I’ll try:
We were lucky enough to be housesitting for a lovely family and caring for their sweet black cat. We made a temporary home and spent our days cooking, exploring the neighbourhood, eating, drinking and taking excursions to different areas. One day we spent an afternoon in Golden Gate Park, before becoming immersed in Haight Street and all its amazing shops and characters. Another day we went to Chinatown, wandered down some side streets and ended up in a bustling restaurant where we were the only tourists. We went to countless movies, and dissected them over food at Mel’s Drive-in while putting old Christmas carols on the juke box. I had my first, real American pecan pie. We celebrated our first, and probably only, solo Christmas; combining our family traditions and sharing them only with each other. We hired a car for a day with the intention to end our drive by going over the Golden Gate Bridge. We got caught in terrible traffic and by the time we drove over it, I couldn’t have cared less because I was BUSTING to wee. Later we managed to convince a guy at a garage to let me use the toilet by telling him I was pregnant. We got coffees and walked along the shore at Crissy Field. We saw in the new year by having a decadent dinner and then watching the fireworks on top of a hill. I had grown a little pudgy on our trip, so every morning I climbed the hill and walked while taking in a 360-degree view of the city.
Up on that hill, I thought about just how crazy it was that we made it right through Europe and drove across America to San Francisco. Steve, just a small town gal, was here in San Fran-freakin’-cisco. I don’t mean to be all “ah-ha moment” lame, but I started to think about our future and what might be possible. When we came home, some of those hopes came true.
San Francisco is definitely my favourite place in the world.
Luckily we’re good friends.
I’m really starting to make like big bird and nest. I’m pretty sure J-man, the little cookie monster, is thrilled.
Recently, I decided to get creative by stealing someone else’s great idea of making a suitcase table. Because it was so much fun – not to mention being really great for our marriage – I have decided to share the process with you:
Step one: Go to Surry Hills markets and buy an overpriced vintage suitcase from a hipster conman. Feel empty, betrayed and bitter for the rest of the day.
Step two: Tell your husband to high-tail it to Bunnings and pick you up some table legs, some lacquer and some T-nuts. Set aside T-nuts for personal use.
Step three: Stain the legs on your white kitchen floor. Lean the freshly stained legs up against your white wall. You won’t regret it and, I swear, your landlord will love the new “bespoke” detail on his precious property.
Step four: Tell your husband to re-do your nails. And do it now, baldy!
Step five: Ask your husband to take a photo of you posing Charlie’s Angels-style with your new power drill in your messy kitchen. He won’t mind!
Step six: Drill some holes in that suitcase. Try not to let your mind wander to whether the Romans or whoever used asbestos to make their suitcases.
Step seven: Tell your husband to figure out what the hell to do with T-nuts. He, of all people, should know how to handle those babies with care.
Step eight: Don’t get angry at your selfish husband when the T-nut strategy goes balls up. He really is a good man deep inside and you can forgive him once he returns to Bunnings with his man tail between his legs to get plates and screws instead.
Step nine: Allow your husband to take over the drilling once in a while. It’s good for his sense of manhood.
Step ten: When he starts doing annoying things, like being reasonable and telling you to be careful, start swearing and calling him names until he storms out and says “I’m going to the gym”. Continue drilling and muttering under your breath.
Step eleven: When it becomes clear this really is a two person job, use your cutesy puppy voice to ask him to stay and help, promising you’ll never call him a “pain in the arse” or a “little poo” again. He’ll obey because he knows what’s good for him.
Step twelve: Admire your finished product! You have worked so, so hard to make this perfect. To celebrate, go and sink one of your husband’s expensive beers. You know the ones – the precious American ales he saves up for and stores away for special occasions. He’ll be totally cool with it, I promise!