Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Neither Here Nor There

My visit to the San Francisco Bay Area has been great from an interpersonal standpoint. I've had the chance to see most of my close friends who still live here and numerous friendly acquaintances as well. But I've had a more ambivalent response to the landscape. Friday I was feeling really down on San Francisco, in part because I spent much of it in the vicinity of the Powell Street BART station. Saturday, when I went to the Upper Haight and then walked the hills between the Castro and Noe Valley, was a more positive experience. Still, it wasn't until I was driving down Grove towards Van Ness yesterday that I had pangs of genuine nostalgia. It's strange that the Civic Center region holds appeal for me, since it doesn't seem to be a big improvement on the aegis of the Fifth and Mission Garage. Maybe it's simply that I spent more time there in my undergraduate days. At any rate, the glassy sea of longing finally started to kick up some surf on my journey to the Bay Bridge. By the time I was heading back across it at midnight, though, I was feeling more distant again. Perhaps it's simply that I don't have as much affection for the portions of the City that I got to know towards the end of my time living in the area or didn't really grasp until returning for visits. One thing that's clear, though, is that both sides of the Bay have more of a "mixed" late 1980s-to-early-1990s feel than was the case during the Dot Com boom of the second Clinton Administration. I went by the place I lived freshman year yesterday, which is on the corner of 67th at Mabel in Berkeley, and was surprised to find that it looked almost exactly as it had when I moved in. Gentrification has retreated again, which means that neighborhoods like that one have become both more dangerous and less annoying. Hayes Valley, however, is another matter. There was no Suppenküche before the freeway came down. Not that I'm going to object to a plate of Jägerschnitzel and Spätzle, mind you...
Tags: autobiography, travel

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