Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Getting and Losing Lost

I just got back from a visit home to see my parents. It's been over 5 years (6 in January) since I left New York and that neighborhood called Silver Lake but in many ways it will still be home to me. It's where I was born, where I spent my childhood and even a handful of years as an adult. My last apartment in New York was in the heart of this cool primarily Italian neighborhood near the top of the hill. At the bottom was a little strip of shops and restaurants. There were more delis than gas stations in this little village which always struck me as funny.

Now that I've been in San Francisco for a while I have managed to lose some of my memory of how to get from point A to point B. I dropped off Mom at her chemo appointment and was running some errands. I was trying to get from the supermarket to the library. There is this little shortcut you can take behind the supermarket that will bypass about a gazillion traffic lights and would drop me off right on Lake Street which goes right to the library. Easy. Well about 5 minutes in I realized that I must have missed a turn. About 3 minutes later I admitted that I had no idea where I was, but suspected that I might be on Buckout Rd, our own little suburban urban legend street, that ran behind the lake and was host to dozens of horror stories.

I mostly remember it as the street I find myself on when I am completely lost. Well I managed to find my way to the library and back to Mom, with only these pictures to remind me of this little misadventure.

I was a little embarassed. When I was bored or sad or just wanted time to think, I would get in a car and drive around. As long as I could find one of the many highways or parkways that ran through Westchester County I could always find my way home. The summer I spent doing pre-canvas for the Census Bureau connected numerous neighborhoods for me, so I had alternates to alternate paths if my main route was backed up. So getting lost in an area that I once knew so well was a little sad.

I didn't think much about this until I got back to San Francisco. I was driving back home after dinner with my friend Karen. I was a little tired and halfway home realized that I was on auto-pilot. Her neighborhood, Golden Gate Heights, is filled with winding streets that seem destined to pull innocent passerbys into wrong turns at every block. I didn't make a single wrong turn. It was as if I knew instinctively which was to go.

I realize that there are fewer and fewer places I can go that are strange for me in San Francisco. Like most people, I have my routines and tend to frequent the same stores and shops for my errands. Even though I've been here 5 years, there were a lot of places I'd never been to until recently. Interestingly, I'm beginning to picture the best way to get from here to there. Even when here and there are places I go to only once in a while. In some ways I miss the thrill you get when you are getting to know some place new. How exciting it is to find the perfect coffee shop to meet a friend or the best place to grab a quick bite before a movie. I'm losing the lost sensation in San Francisco.

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