Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era, or am somehow channelling a past life, because the 70s feel familiar and almost nostalgic to me. Which is why I love spending time in San Francisco.
There’s something about that city that makes me want to string flowers in between the strands of my long, unwashed hair and dance barefoot in a field. Okay, maybe not, but there is something mystical that happens the moment San Fran’s intrinsic energy begins to soak into my pores. It’s freeing. Almost as liberating as burning ones bra, I would imagine. Bay City – 1. Brassiere – 0.
Every time I’m in town, I have my usual stops. A stroll through Chinatown. A show in the Castro. Drinks in the Mission. And some time spent wandering around Haight Street. Haight Ashbury, of course, being the epicentre of hippie heyday and still crawling with delightfully questionable characters. It’s the source, people. Mecca for free love and finding your inner voice…whatever that means.
I followed my inner voice to Haight on a Sunday while in town during the Bay to Breakers race – the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world – where about 10% of the competitors are serious runners and 90% dress in outlandish costumes and drink their way to the finish line. My kind of marathon.
After the race is complete, Haight and the surrounding area transforms into party central, which is pretty full on at 10am. I found myself navigating through a sea of everything from fairy princesses and priests to folks meandering about in the buff. How one runs a race with their wobbly bits unleashed like that is a sight to behold.
I ducked into Amoeba Music for a bit of respite from the revellers, and found an original poster promoting a gig at the Whiskey a Go Go in LA – headliners The Byrds, opening act The Doors. Thank you inner voice and 20-somethings puking on the sidewalk for forcing guiding me there.
Bars and cafes were packed, so there was no chance of brunch but the party spilled out into the street so it didn’t really matter. I made a mandatory stop at my favorite boutique in lieu of breakfast (sometimes shopping is sustenance) and walked a few more blocks in search of a psychic I found on yelp (super reliable). I accidentally turned down instead of up (that actually makes sense in San Fran) and by the time I realized it, there was no way I was going to huff my way back. So I decided to meander down Ashbury onto Hayes, making my way slowly back to Union Square where I was staying.
Parties raged on, with kids climbing lampposts and DJs spinning on patios. Invites from complete strangers poured in as I strolled by, marvelling at my luck. What a day to be there. But I pressed on, dying for something to soak up the wine remnants from the night before.
I set my sights on the perfect sidewalk cafe just as this woman emerged form her storefront to interrupt my stride. She held out a flyer promoting palm readings and tarot. Normally, in such a hangry* state, I would blow off such a solicitation, but something made me turn around and engage her. I agreed to a $20 “intro reading” and followed her into the back room of her crystal shop.
She carefully inspected the creases in my dehydrated hands, noting things I’ve heard from other psychics before. You’ll live a long life. I don’t see any real health issues. I don’t see you ever struggling financially. Nice. But then she dug a little deeper into my marriage and recent move the US, things I didn’t divulge.
She said my husband and I had been bickering lately, which stung because we rarely argue but the complexities of moving to California had definitely taken its toll. She said it was the right move for us and we’d settle in the right spot, which we have. She also predicted we’d have two children, which was alarming because a) she had been pretty accurate up until this point and b) my husband and I have no plans to start a family. I asked if dogs count. She said yes. Bless her. Then she asked if either my husband or I had twins in our family, which we do, on both sides. To which she recommended we be extra careful with contraception in the coming months. Gah!
Afterwards, I parked my weary self street-side at Chez Maman for lunch and rosé, while the psychic’s words set in. Health, financial stability, California…and dogs. Twin dogs, maybe.
* When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or, in extreme cases, murderous.
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