You Are *Here*

There’s something to be said for living alone. Sitting around in your underwear, hair unbrushed, embarrassing music blasting is a rather glorious feeling. That said, I’m single and I live with my cat- not such a glamorous introduction at the bar. Today, however, I am basking in the positivity of the privacy and homey comfort of my overpriced studio. Until I have to go to work that is.

Some of you may be disappointed to know that the point of this post is not to talk about the underwear dance parties that Oreo and I have on an almost daily basis, but rather my thoughts on public transportation. First, let me say that without a map (and sometimes, even with) my sense of direction is…nonexistent. It once took me three hours to get my friends and I back home to Louisville after a Ben Folds concert in Cincinnati, which is a mere hour and a half drive away. At most. With public transportation I have a little bit more luck. The opportunity to double check one’s route while waiting for the next train or bus makes things a little bit less risky. That said, I did take the right bus in the wrong direction the other day and rather than ending up in Pacific Heights, I found myself at AT&T Park. I decided a long time ago to treat these navigational errors as adventures to places that I might not have discovered otherwise.

I think that without the handy dandy Google maps app on my iPhone I would be completely lost in this city. Meeting a friend for dinner would be much like it is described in Pride and Prejudice and would take me a day to get to my destination and another to get home and therefore would require me to stay wherever I had gone for at least a week.  San Francisco isn’t actually that large of a city, but with all of the hills and buildings and people everywhere its easy to get distracted and very very lost. Without even realizing it, you can go from a really nice neighborhood to a really not nice area in a block.

My journey to work everyday is very convenient; I get on the bus right outside my front door, get off about 10 blocks later, walk three, and voila! Very easy, yes. Normal? Not so much. When I get on the bus I’m included in the 20% that represents non-Asian passengers. About halfway through my route the signs on buildings start to change from English to a combination of English and Chinese and eventually just Chinese. The bus safety announcements are broadcast in English, Spanish and Chinese. At this point I am part of the 5% of non-Asian passengers, and suddenly I find myself in a completely different country. There are red lanterns strung across the streets, junk shops selling golden waving cats and giant buddahs and markets selling produce that I definitely didn’t study in culinary school. How did I manage to travel all the way to Hong Kong in 2 miles? Half of the bus unloads, allowing me the luxury of sitting for the last few stops. Two blocks down and the park is full of children playing on the elaborate jungle gym designed to look like something out of Mulan, while all around the edges, on benches and sidewalks, old men are either playing chess or watching it being played. One more block and it all starts to fade, back to double translations and an Italian restaurant and Subway thrown in the mix. Another block and we’ve reached the heart of the financial district. Starbucks and Peet’s have long lines of suit-clad corporate employees waiting for their afternoon caffeine fix. Women in skirt suits and sneakers are lunching on the front steps of the federal trust building while tourists wander in search of Union Square. Now I’m in Manhattan. It won’t feel like San Francisco again until I hop the bus after work and land outside my apartment surrounded by chilly damp fog.

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