Morosely, I set things aside to ship home and put my bag back together, not enchanted as I usually am by my miraculous ability to stuff an entire month’s worth of wardrobe changes in a classy duffel bag. I should go on a show to demonstrate these talents. I was at the Iowa State Fair recently and I watched about ten minutes of this grocery sacking contest before I wanted to throw myself off a bridge. Those contestants had no panache, no pizzaz, no talent whatsoever. All they did was throw food in plastic sacks and sweat. I was not amused and I left. But, I think they should have a contest on luggage packing. I’d win. I’d have the world’s biggest blue ribbon in luggage packing. I only have one Fair ribbon. Third place on a picture. Not bad, but not a blue ribbon, you know?
Once the bag was finished up, I put the box together and got dressed. I always dress like an eccentric millionaire on days that I plan to travel on airplanes. It does the peasants good to know that there is still something they can aspire to. I want to be inspiration to the hideous masses. (Remember, vote for me for governor!)
I checked out of the room and left my bags with the front desk and set out on my remaining moments in THE CITY.
The day was brisk and I looked fabulous and knowing that I had to leave San Francisco was giving my heart a serious pang. I never wanted to leave. It was one of those places that there was no point in leaving. It had it all. San Francisco is perfect. At the post office, the box that I had wrapped turned out not to be a flat-rate box, much to my annoyance, so I had to pay by the pound. $38! They ask you lots of questions.
“Do you have any gels or liquids?”
“NO!” I said, thinking of the hairspray, hair gel, and face wash inside.
“Are there any illegal goods contained within?”
“NO!” I said, then giggled internally. Why would anybody confess that they were shipping a kilo of cocaine? I’m not. I didn’t. I’m just saying.
It was expensive, but it was all awfully heavy, so I didn’t mind unloading my excess shoes and espresso machine and such — yes, I carried an espresso machine around California. Don’t you? Oh, that’s right, you’re a peasant! (Sorry.) I burst out laughing when she asked, “Would you like cash back this morning?”
PRAISE THE POSTAL SERVICE! People complain about it, but when you think about the service you’re receiving for the price of a stamp, it’s truly remarkable. You can physically send a document from one coast to the other for the price of a piece of gum. It’s madness! It’s worth more. I hope they don’t up their prices.
I decided to head back to La Boulange for breakfast. I’m not a big fan of repeating my restaurants, but today was different. Sometimes you just love a place so much that you can’t refuse yourself the pleasure of going.
As I was making my way up to Union Street, I saw this — I can’t even think of a word worthy of it — and fell to my knees in worship:
Can you imagine living in such a wondrous place in such a perfect town? I don’t think you could want anything more…other than a Parisian apartment in a chic arrondissement and a luxurious cottage on the Floridian Gulf in Sarasota, of course. These are my three dream lodgings and I shall own them all before I die. Life would be dull if you didn’t own property, I think.
La Boulange was once again a culinary triumph. I had another vegetable quiche and an Orangina and an espresso and a macaron and I was so happy to sit out in the chilly afternoon and watch the bundled-up people walk by on the first of August, clutching a scarf round their necks. It was remarkable that I enjoyed myself. I truly cannot understand it. The cold always shuts me down, but here, I just accepted it and even…dare I say?…liked it.
I had ample time before my shuttle was due to arrive so I decided to walk out to the Golden Gate Bridge and walk across. A person leaps off about once a week! I don’t know why you’d want to kill yourself in the greatest city in America, but do whatever it is that makes you happy.
I was so content wandering through all those streets, meandering up steep hills and nearly tripping and falling to my death when I reached the summit. I skipped. I sang. I did the Julie Andrews twirl:
I was struck dumb. I was flabbergasted. I was in awe. I WAS IN HEAVEN. For some reason, there were what appeared to be (but obviously wasn’t) ancient ruins in the middle of town. I swear this city is trying to lure me in and keep me here for all eternity. I’m okay with that.
These amazing structures — the pictures don’t even begin to do them any justice — are called the Palace of Fine Arts and were built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition which was put on to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but was really a: “LOOK HOW AMAZING WE SAN FRANCISCANS ARE!,” since the city had recently gone through the earthquake and sequential fire that ruined it. This would have been an INCREDIBLE place to have seen.
I’ve always wanted to go to a classy old-fashioned fair like this or the World’s Fair. The Iowa State Fair is, yes, the largest fair in the country, and yes, it still has many traditions and customs from yesteryear…but it’s awfully tragic, you know? All those poor people and all that beer and all that country racket.
I left this, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, to continue my journey to the Bridge. The atmosphere must have been in on the city’s attempt to keep me, because look:
I walked and I walked along that sandy beach in all my finery watching all the dogs dash by — a plethora of unhappy dog walkers lined the beach — and couldn’t have been more content. I was reminded of the quays of Paris, and I didn’t feel ashamed to think of Paris the way I had done in Los Angeles. This place actually captures how Paris makes me feel. Madness!
I realized that I wouldn’t have time to have luncheon if I went all the way to the bridge, which was much further away than I had guessed earlier. I wasn’t horribly gutted to not walk on the bridge. I’ve walked on bridges before. I’ve walked across London Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge…uh oh…it’s happening…
THE ONLY BRIDGE, THAT’S A REAL GONE BRIDGE, IS THE BRIDGE ACROSS THE BAY!
Greens was really close and I was peckish and I knew they had a take-out cafe, so off I went through a completely new part of town that was stuffed with Art Deco buildings. Then suddenly the place took on a decidedly Mediterranean feeling and I knew I had to get out before I lost my mind. It was too beautiful and too perfect and I was all at once terrified that something would happen to disillusion me — but I don’t think I was disillusioned for a moment. I was never sad or weary or unhappy or grumpy or anything but delighted from the moment I arrived in San Francisco to the second I left her behind.
Greens was wonderful, just as I knew it would be. I couldn’t resist going to the restaurant, not now that I knew it was an institution and ordered the linguini:
Completely satisfied, I leisurely walked back to my hotel and grabbed my bags and did a bit of work on the Internet before my shuttle came to take me away.
The driver was wonderful and drove me through Little Japan because I had mentioned that it was the only place I hadn’t managed to see in my time here. It looked like a fantastic place to spend an afternoon and I cannot wait to get back there. I know I will.
Before too long I was at the airport and I’m such an old pro at air travel now that I was through security in two ticks. I had plenty of time to kill, so I went to one of those sad airport bars that are always filled with business people and had myself a bag of kettle chips — I’m mad about kettle chips! — and a gin and tonic — to steady my nerves. I’m not nervous of the air travel. Not in the slightest. I have every intention of learning how to fly. I just needed to cool myself down so that I wouldn’t lash out at all the people who insisted on wearing crocs and sweatpants and exercise shorts. I wept a bit behind my sunglasses. I refused to take them off. Peasants don’t deserve to see the majesty of my gaze.
With a little time before departure left, I went to charge my devices where I discovered that the cord to my laptop was still at the Buena Vista Inn plugged into the wall. That was certainly an inconvenience. An emergency rather, I thought. I called the hotel and they would send it to me when they found it. I would have a bit of battery for Las Vegas, but not much. Oh well, what can I do? I still had my iPad.
Finally it was time to board the plane and I had the middle seat. Nothing is worse than the middle seat — who gets the armrests? What if the one in the aisle falls asleep and you need to go adjust your lipstick? What if the one in the window seat has to use the restroom and the one on the aisle is asleep? Is it then my responsibility to wake him up? Such stress. Luckily, both my neighbors were decent enough. It was the Dutch girl behind me who WOULD NOT shut up about the Netherlands. I adore Europe, I’m basically European, there’s no place I’d rather be (other than San Francisco, of course.) But I hated her and I wished she had never left. She would go on and on about how she couldn’t understand why America didn’t have direct flights. Why every American carries a gun. This is really what set me off, actually. I don’t own a gun. I don’t carry a gun. I wouldn’t carry a gun. I hate guns and I’m not alone. There’s a great number of people who would like to see them all thrown into a vat and melted down and made into a lovely sculpture — of Zayn Malik or something equally worthy of public art. I shoved my headphones in, but her blabbering continued — she was now talking about rates of childhood happiness.
Thank the sweet baby Buddha we began our descent into Phoenix, or I would have been forced to scream, “ENOUGH!”
I HATED THE PHOENIX AIRPORT.
It was impossible to get anywhere with any kind of haste as all those wonderful magical sidewalks were out of operation. I was starved and the only kind of food I could find was deep fried poison. FINALLY, I came across a place that sold salads. I had one of those and hurried to my gate. I had about fifteen minutes before boarding. I scoured that place and found a row of empty seats.
With a sigh, I seated myself. A lady turned around and said, “There’s somebody sitting there.”
I glared at her, looked around at the empty seats and threw myself dramatically to the floor. I hated her. She was poorly dressed and her hair was a travesty. I sat on the filthy ground in my custom suit eating a salad while obese trash sat in sweatpants and tank-tops. I about burst into tears. It was too much for me. It was the first time I’d been unhappy since I arrived in San Francisco. I needed to go back.
Guess what? Nobody ever sat in those seats. I HOPE THAT WOMAN DIES. I hope she gets in a car wreck. I hope she gets cancer. I hope she is stalked by a rapist. I hope she throws herself off a skyscraper. I hope she is crushed by an asphalt roller. I hope she is strangled by a python. I hope she gets lost in the desert. I hope she is shot at a bank robbery. I hope all these things happen at once. She doesn’t deserve air. VOTE FOR ME FOR GOVERNOR!
It was finally time to board the plane to Vegas and I was seated next to some other whale of a person who was going to a bachelorette party with her friend (who didn’t care for her at all). I was sick to death of this already. I knew Vegas wasn’t for me from the second I saw those miserable specimens of humanity. She wouldn’t shut up about all her office friends — office friends aren’t real friends, I wanted to make sure she knew, but I was feeling kindly.
I needed off that plane. Thankfully, the twinkling lights of Vegas were brightening up the darkness of the wasteland outside. But, this is where we’ll stop for tonight.