But even with gusting wind and stinging sand, I think Ocean Beach is still maybe my favorite place in San Francisco. There's something about the way the savage beauty of the ocean meets graffitied cement in a bizarre marriage of wilderness and city that fascinates me and has captured my heart from the very beginning. Staring out at the sun glinting off the water, cool concrete steps beneath me, I'm steeped in nostalgia. I recall: calm warm afternoons, sparkling-water rhythmic waves lulling my mind to tranquility; cold grey evenings huddled in the dunes, fascinated by the wild tempestuous sea, not content to leave until long after the sun had gone down and my face had gone numb. Sometimes I really miss the Sunset.
It's almost as if, traveling to the Outer Sunset, I'm traveling back in time. As if once I hit that place on the road where I can see the ocean just above the horizon, I slip into a strange sort of time warp where I'm somehow my old and present self all at the same time, maintaining my current perspective and yet so finely tuned in to that certain point in my life: heart & soul freshly liberated, untethered and drunk on the promise of this weird and wonderful new home. It's almost as if I'd never left, or as though time didn't exist at all, even though so much has occurred in between, so much has changed. It somehow still feels slightly odd, upon leaving the wind-whipped dunes, to climb into my car and drive home; as if my body half expects to walk the four blocks to that little yellow house, climb the astroturf-covered stairs and be embraced by the unmistakable old-San-Francisco-house smell.
It's an odd sort of in-between place to visit; strangely enlightening and comforting in it's familiarity at the same time. I can still feel it: everything so fresh and me falling head-over-heels in love with the city and my new life. The same sense of freedom and confusion I felt then are relevant to me now, I think, so I guess it somehow makes sense that I should feel as if I'm in two different places, two different times at once. It seems fitting that I should revisit these old haunts now in my mind and in the flesh as I find myself in another transitional period, starting out on a new path and not quite sure where it will take me, but determined to hang on for dear life and enjoy the ride nonetheless.
I leave wind-burned, tangled-haired with sand in my eyes... but oddly happy, with the same unfailing sense of rejuvenation the rolling surf and sand always bring to my mind.