Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What have I done? My favorite moments from San Francisco

San Francisco has been AMAZING. A lot has happened in the five days I've been here. These are some of my favorite moments...

Most delicious thing I've eaten: Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl

Let's be real, what really makes this dish both unique and tasty is the sourdough bread. A newfound friend from the Bay area recommended I go to Boudin while in Fisherman's Wharf. It was a solid suggestion.

The focus at Boudin is on the sourdough, which you can watch them roll and bake from a glass wall while the strong smell of fresh baked bread is pumped through air vents to entice you inside. Why on earth anyone would opt for the Applebee's across the street, I'll never know.

I noticed others around me who had the same dish would politely sip their soup from a spoon, leaving behind the bread. Not me. I used the tangy bread to dunk and slurp up the chowder and proceeded to rip apart the bowl itself, leaving no trace of it behind.

Most unexpected thing I've done: Walking in the Trans March

When it comes to travel, I am not a big planner. My favorite thing to do is arrive with a very basic idea of things I'd like to do while staying completely open to new and unexpected experiences. My favorite so far happened while I was exploring The Castro and headed toward Mission Dolores Park where, upon arriving, I quickly realized the Trans March had just started.

The Pride parade may be the big showy spectacle most people come for, including myself, but the Trans March is a reminder that there is purpose behind it all. It's important to remember that there are people still fighting for acceptance and we still have a ways to go for the trans community.

By luck, coincidence, fate, or whatever you believe in, the march's path lead me right back to my hostel. The people in the parade were a beautiful mix of everything under the rainbow. I was proud to march along with them.

Scariest moment of the trip: The loud boom outside the bar

Before leaving Albuquerque, I made a promise to my mom that I would take my safety seriously while traveling. I've done my best to stay in touch every day and keep aware of my surroundings at all times.

Staying alert got put to the test on Sunday night while at a little bar near my hostel. It's a tiny narrow space with drag on the weekends and drinks strong enough they made me think of SOCH back in Albuquerque. I was having a great time, enjoying some whiskey and ginger ale, making new friends, and dancing on the tiny dance floor. As I was sitting talking to a friendly drunk and her girlfriend, a loud boom sounded from outside.

I've never seen a group of drunken revelers sober up so quickly.

I know we all had the same thing on our minds. We've seen the news. We know San Francisco Pride is a potential target. We were all on edge in that moment, even while we tried to put on brave faces.

In an attempt to reassure me, the girl I was talking to leans in to let me know she has a pistol in her bag, just in case. Not exactly comforting but I recognized she meant it to be.

One guy at the bar volunteered to go outside to see what was going on. We waited around, dance tunes from old musicals playing in the background, until he came back to let us know there wasn't any sign of danger.

Some speculated it was a firework, maybe a car crash. I'll likely never know. But what I'll remember was the moment when everyone banded together, eyes set toward the door, ready for whatever might happen next. Yes, it was scary, but at least I knew I was surrounded by strangers who were ready to take care of each other.

Most emotional moment: Seeing the church ladies walking the parade

The entire parade was really one big emotional roller coaster for me. I happy cried at least half a dozen times. After the Dykes on Bikes opened the parade, the first the round of marchers were mostly activists, with strong, provocative messages displayed on poster board, banners, umbrellas, and other creative means.

One group that stood out to me were the church ladies for gay rights. Growing up religious has made it difficult to reconcile my faith and my sexuality. I still don't know if I've really come to full acceptance but I'm a lot further than I was even a few years ago. Seeing images like these women in their Sunday best loudly proclaiming acceptance gives me hope for myself and, let's all hope, for everyone who needs it.

Overall, this city has been wonderful to me and I hate leaving it, even though I know I have newer and bigger adventures ahead. For five days now I have been surrounded nonstop by positive messages of affirmation and acceptance that I never want to end. I will take these memories with me, I'll look through the photos, I'll remember my newfound friends, and I'll look forward to more in the coming months.

Next stop, London.

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