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. You’ve got to love a song with lyrics like “little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars”, and of course, Tony Bennett could sing the ingredients on a box of cereal and still make you swoon - but what really got me was the sincerity with which it was sung. A true, heartfelt ballad to a fabulous city.
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.
During our time at Airbnb we were invited to participate in several research projects. We became “lab rats” and searched the website with cameras catching our every move, and tried some new applications. It didn't take long to discover it was better to separate us.
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.
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.
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!
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!