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The Rainbow City

This is my final week of winter vacation before heading back to Guatemala. It’s been a whirlwind few weeks with a lot of charged emotions.

I felt an overwhelming sense of both excitement and being settled. It was absolutely fantastic being back. On the plane ride, I couldn’t contain myself. “I’m going home!” I couldn’t wait to jump in and see my friends, my favorite places and eat my favorite foods. After seven months away, I really needed to do my thing in my city. The week was a delightful blur of activity. I got to do almost everything I wanted to do while I was there. I couldn’t have been happier drinking in the whole city.

My time in San Francisco revolved around three key things: friends, food and exercise. I’m a very active person; if I had my druthers, I might just walk 5 or miles in a day simply because I can. Antigua’s 10-block diameter doesn’t allow for me to stretch my legs the way I really want to. So, I was absolutely living up my opportunities to walk everywhere and go running along the bay. I needed it, too, to work off all the food I indulged in.

I love food. With every day that passes I’m a more obsessive foodie. I got to go get some of my favorite types of food at my absolute favorite places. I ate it all. If you ever want my list of restaurant recommendations for my favorite city on Earth, you’re in for a treat (just as I was while eating at them all). There are two things that the city by the bay does best, in my humble opinion – Asian and Latin cuisine – so, my culinary tour revolved around these themes. I had my favorite pumpkin curry at Osha Thai, chicken tikka masala at a new Indian restaurant downtown, a cherry blossom roll at Kyoto Sushi. Of course, no stop in SF would be complete without tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar, and I made the trek all the way out into the avenues (it’s like another world out there) for this delectable treat. My Latin fare centered around my old home the Mission District, of course, with particular stops at Taquería Cancun and, my absolute favorite, Charanga. Salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite was an after-dinner must. The most important stop was to see my dear cross-dressing restaurateur friend at the incomparable Red Door Cafe. With a whopping four tables in the place, wait times can top two hours; I assure you every glorious bite is worth every moment of the wait. While the food quality and presentation are top-notch, the company always manages to be even better. You can’t leave without Ahmed, the owner, having facilitated friends-for-life conversations between everyone there. It’s phenomenal.

And, that’s just the thing about San Francisco – from my baseball-obsessed yoga teacher, to my devout Midwestern Catholic pal who is about as socially liberal as it gets to my gay, Egyptian, cross-dressing foodie restaurateur – people defy categorization. There is a truly beautiful depth to everyone I’ve met that makes me feel like I’m not alone. As long as I’m surrounded by all of these deeply beautiful people who are walking contradictions, I’m reminded that I can also embody all of my rainbow characteristics. When I was younger I always felt like I had to choose a box to fit in to. But, recently, particularly since being in Guatemala, been able to start pushing beyond my self-imposed limits. Coming back to San Francisco after all this time helps me realize how far I’ve come in embracing everything I naturally am, particularly in contrast to how I was when I first arrived here years ago. This city brought that ability out in me. San Francisco, in my opinion, has it all, which makes it okay for me to want it all: from running along the Bay to singing karaoke, from salsa dancing to jazz, from Butter’s After School Special to wine tasting in Napa, from Taco Tuesday to the Michelin Guide. This is the city where you can see people walking down the street together wearing a business suit, a birthday suit and a zoot suit. This is the ultimate city for self-expression. People here really have no boundaries.

Feeling my own boundaries melt away has been as rewarding and energizing as it was necessary. San Francisco helped me be at ease with myself and the world in a way that I never thought possible. The process of blossoming and coming into your own is something that I think should be cherished. I personally believe that once people have been through this transformative period, they are unstoppable in their destiny. Once we have reached down inside to get in touch with who we really are we are able to tap in to our own unique force for effecting the change we are each here to make. Being back in this beautiful city has helped me reflect back on my personal coming-of-age journey. This place and the beautiful bounty of people and things here facilitated my process. For that reason, I will always fondly call San Francisco home.

This week I saw peace in the long journey home.

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