It was Tuesday morning. I hadn’t gotten out of bed yet. My phone buzzed on top of the old milk crate reincarnated as a bedside table. The tiny florescent screen read: Q! I have a crazy idea! …
A few texts later, it was decided–I would be flying to San Fransisco that weekend for a 24-hour whirlwind of adventure, fun, and memories.
Saturday morning I tipped my hat to the frigid desert and within one hour landed smack dab in middle of the warm, golden Bay. Invigorated by the bustle of city life and sunshine, we mazed through traffic and trolleys and found ourselves in a line a block long for what promised to be the most delicious brunch I’d had in my life. “Delicious” didn’t even come close.
We started with cake. Yes, cake. With frosting divine. And from there, moved on to banana bread masquerading as french toast and jam-slathered sandwiches. How had I never eaten a Monte Cristo before now?, I kept asking myself. If I was on death row, I decided, a Monte Cristo is what I would eat for my final meal. My mouth was so happy it cried.
We left the cafe with stomachs as round and happy as the yellow ball in the sky. The beautiful thing about a city of never-ending hills and horrible parking options is that you can eat like that and think nothing of it. And we didn’t. The only thing to think about was what to do next.
The wharf? The shopping district? We’d both been there, done that and wanted something new. Within ten minutes we were northbound headed for a sleepy beach off the coastal highway. Sunroof open, the heat poured in and the wind rushed past. The rolling hills and sweeping fields filled me to the brim with green.
Two hours later we were standing on the sand staring into the fog, the wicked ocean air whipping past our faces and through our hair with exfoliating fury. Waves crashed, culling the sandy shore and building it back up again. We laughed and breathed, filling our lungs with the salty sea–a preservative for the soul. All too soon, it was time to return. The city was calling–promising a glittery night of music and lights.
But not before we stopped again for food. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now. I love dining. I love the linens and the silver. I love the sound of clinking glass and the hum of conversation that rises above the tables, wafting through the room like the scent of herbs from the kitchen. I love the total body nourishment of sharing a meal with a friend. Food, quite complexly, is good for the heart.
We arrived at the hotel with no time to spare–silk and sequins spilling out from our suitcases. A quick turn in the mirror and we were ready to go. We floated down twenty-two floors to the lobby, through the glass doors held open by a suited doorman, and into a shiny black taxi with the softest leather seats.
Twenty minutes later we were sitting high in velvet chairs as the lights dimmed and the conductor took the stage. A handsome French cellist pulled his bow across a 300-year-old instrument–the sound, rich and full, lifted, seeking, filling the darkest corners of the hall. It was stunning. He was stunning.
The second act, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, was exactly that–fantastique. I was awed at the music and couldn’t help but wonder at how the symphony moved. It was a visual feast as much as it was auditory. Each instrument its own entity, but collectively they became this living organism. The bows of the strings, the mallets of the timpani, the sliding arms of the trombones–it was as if, with every note, they were a lung breathing air, and in the process, pushing oxygen into us. By the end of the fifth movement the aliveness of the audience was palpable and at the last note it erupted like a volcano into applause and bravos. Five curtain calls later, we were still clapping.
As we left the gilded glass hall, the night air was brisk and busy, filled with the stars of the city–headlights, traffic lights, and sparkling skyscrapers. We hailed a taxi–a first for me, and an exciting one at that–and our driver dropped us off on a corner in Union Square where we ordered desserts to go and walked back to our hotel. Heels off and nylons strewn, I slowly lifted fork to mouth, savoring every sweet crumb of the mango key-lime dream I held in front of me as I sank into a cloud of a bed.
“I want this day to be a vacation for the senses,” I’d told her earlier that morning. “I want to see beautiful things, and taste beautiful things. I want to hear, touch and smell beauty.” I’d no idea how the day would deliver. And deliver it did. Every molecule of every minute was filled with gorgeous life. And as I balanced on the precipice of a new day, I found myself happy. So very happy. And so very very full.