Internally Grateful

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I Left My Heart in San Francisco

The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gray
The glory that was Rome is of another day
I've been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
I'm going home to my city by the Bay
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don't care
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me

When I sat down to write this blog, Michael cranked up the volume on this famous ode to San Francisco to get me in the mood. I stopped writing for a moment and carefully listened to the words. Besides the fact you’ve got to love a song with lyrics like “little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars”, Tony Bennet could sing the ingredients on a box of cereal and still make you swoon - what really got me was the sincerity with which it was sung. A true, heartfelt ballad to a fabulous city.

Walking both directions across the Golden Gate Bridge was just one of many memorable moments during our ten-week stay in this fabulous city by the bay.

Walking both directions across the Golden Gate Bridge was just one of many memorable moments during our ten-week stay in this fabulous city by the bay.

Will we leave our hearts in San Francisco? Possibly. We are closing in on 10 weeks of living and working in this spectacular city by the bay - longer than any other stay since we left Seattle in July of 2013 to become Senior Nomads. And while we are still “nomadic” in that we’ve lived in three different homes since we’ve been here - we also have a work routine that makes it seem more like we’ve settled down somewhere.

We’ve been to San Francisco several times, so we've done most of the traditional tourist activities. But we hadn't visited Alcatraz - so that was a great day out with Alistair and Jenny and the grandkids who came up from Los Angeles for a weekend. The tour was followed by chowing down on chowder in sourdough bowls on Fisherman's Wharf and making sure the kids enjoyed themselves. But mostly we’ve found ourselves doing things that locals do. Highlights include attending a Giants baseball game, a morning at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, watching Met Live opera in a local theatre, walking both directions across The Golden Gate Bridge, visiting family and long-time friends - including eating Szechuan food in China Town with Michael’s cousins and time with Michael’s best friend (and racing buddy) from college, attending all kinds of church services, walking our neighborhoods and even getting temporary library cards.

We had some great time with family - not only did we have Alistair and Jenny and our adorable grandchildren Spencer and  Lucy up for a weekend, Michael reconnected with three of his cousins he hasn't seen in forty years!

We had some great time with family - not only did we have Alistair and Jenny and our adorable grandchildren Spencer and  Lucy up for a weekend, Michael reconnected with three of his cousins he hasn't seen in forty years!

We saw a lot of things differently while we were here, and we also heard a few new things as well. The Soundscape exhibit at SFMOMA was a delightful "sight" for the ears that included 17 mezmerizing audio art pieces.

We saw a lot of things differently while we were here, and we also heard a few new things as well. The Soundscape exhibit at SFMOMA was a delightful "sight" for the ears that included 17 mezmerizing audio art pieces.

Cousin time in Sacramento - the city where Michael was born and three cousins still reside.

Cousin time in Sacramento - the city where Michael was born and three cousins still reside.

Here we are in front of Airbnb's green wall with cousin Julie next to MIchael and her wife Janice. They live in San Rafael and came in for a tour and dinner in Chinatown.

Here we are in front of Airbnb's green wall with cousin Julie next to MIchael and her wife Janice. They live in San Rafael and came in for a tour and dinner in Chinatown.

During our time at Airbnb we were invited to do several activities as “research” projects. We became “lab rats” and searched the website with cameras catching our every move, and tried some new applications.

Here's a shot with key members of a team we formed called Team HUG (Helping Uplift Guests) we worked with many great people on a pretty staggering range of projects - but working to create a program to recognize guests as valued members of the Airbnb community has been our favorite. 

Here's a shot with key members of a team we formed called Team HUG (Helping Uplift Guests) we worked with many great people on a pretty staggering range of projects - but working to create a program to recognize guests as valued members of the Airbnb community has been our favorite. 

We also shared our love of jigsaw puzzles. It was fun to see a crowd around the table in the late afternoon with the latest challenge.

We also shared our love of jigsaw puzzles. It was fun to see a crowd around the table in the late afternoon with the latest challenge.

We were invited to attend and give feedback on a few Airbnb Experiences (unique events hosted by locals) so we enjoyed an intimate concert at the historic Stow Lake Boathouse in Golden Gardens Park, I signed up to learn how to make Ramen Noodles from scratch with Jenny and Lucy as my guests, and learned the art of icing and decorating cookies. Michael took a bracing afternoon sail on an America’s Cup boat (that one was a birthday gift from Al and Jenny) but is also offered as an Airbnb experience. All in all, we’ve been able to see much more of San Francisco from a very local perspective thanks to our internship.

Jenny and Lucy enjoying the fruits of our Ramen Noodle Making labor. Airbnb offers hundreds of experiences in cities around the world, and you don't have to be a guest to take one. Check out airbnb.com and search for something completely different to do in your own hometown!

Jenny and Lucy enjoying the fruits of our Ramen Noodle Making labor. Airbnb offers hundreds of experiences in cities around the world, and you don't have to be a guest to take one. Check out airbnb.com and search for something completely different to do in your own hometown!

Michael at the helm of a Americas Cup racing boat. It was a memorable afternoon!

Michael at the helm of a Americas Cup racing boat. It was a memorable afternoon!

Summing it all up, San Francisco is a rich, vibrant city that has embraced the future, but has a solid sense of it’s past. There are gleaming new skyscrapers, and lofts alongside classic Victorian homes. Sleek private commuter buses slip by cable cars, and shiny new restaurants, hip barber shops and boutiques nestle between seedy bars and corner liquor stores. But the largest contrast would be traveling cocooned in an Uber (us included) to your tech-job while passing dozens of homeless people living in tents under the freeways and sleeping in the doorways. The disparity is hard to ignore.

On Friday the 17th, our ten-week sojourn here will be over. We accomplished a lot while we were here, including a pretty amazing research project of our own that included 50 guests from around the world participating in an electronic Town Hall. We will give our final report, turn in our badges along with our Mac books, and say goodbye to so many new friends.

Who wouldn't want to hang out with this bunch? Fruit and Veg was the Halloween costume theme for the third floor where we sit - not pictured are the many dogs, also in costume.

Who wouldn't want to hang out with this bunch? Fruit and Veg was the Halloween costume theme for the third floor where we sit - not pictured are the many dogs, also in costume.

Michael and I are two of the few people here who use a lot of paper! We even use paper clips and staplers. What?

Michael and I are two of the few people here who use a lot of paper! We even use paper clips and staplers. What?

A thoughtful gift designed for us by Melinda - a very talented designer. It was given to us on stage during a company-wide presentation. Now if we only had a wall ...

A thoughtful gift designed for us by Melinda - a very talented designer. It was given to us on stage during a company-wide presentation. Now if we only had a wall ...

On Sunday the 19th we’ll turn in our apartment keys to their rightful owner and fly to Seattle to finish out the year at home. But really, where is home? With family in Seattle, L.A. and Paris, and time spent in fabulous places around the world, how will we ever decide where to settle when the time comes? All the sappy songs, wall plaques and cross-stitched pillows clearly state "Home is Where the Heart is". But our hearts are stretched a bit thin!

One last big thank you to Chip Conley - our champion. Chip has been there to say "Yes!" to almost every crazy idea we've ever had where Airbnb was concerned. He has a new book coming out in 2018 on the benefits of keeping Modern Elders in the workplace - I'll keep you posted on the release date. 

One last big thank you to Chip Conley - our champion. Chip has been there to say "Yes!" to almost every crazy idea we've ever had where Airbnb was concerned. He has a new book coming out in 2018 on the benefits of keeping Modern Elders in the workplace - I'll keep you posted on the release date. 

We'll be house-sitting for friends until the end of the year. By then we hope to have a clearer picture of where our journey will take us in 2018. We do know we aren’t quite ready to give up the Senior Nomads lifestyle - so we plan to set out for new territories after the first of the year. India, parts of South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan are all on the wish list!


Thank for following along,

Debbie and Michael
The Senior Nomads

p.s. We were able to reinstate our @seniornomads Instagram account, so after our internship is finished I will no longer post on @theseniornomads. Move on over!