San Francisco, Magic City & poem 90

My friend Joan once said my love for San Francisco made it my Magic City. I always liked that term so have referred to it that way from then on. This morning I pick up my good friend Janice from CVG. She’s been in Menlo Park (just south of The City) for her nephew’s wedding. Knowing she’s been there for a week brings back memories . . .

Actually, some of the memories include Janice. She is the friendliest of my exes, in fact, she’s my best friend. I remember we’ve stayed in the hostel and at a magnificent bed and breakfast. We’ve also stayed at her sister’s in Menlo Park and with our friends outside Santa Cruz. We always loved to go to Chinatown and immerse ourselves in this culture. We’d find great bargains and eat authentic Chinese food. Of course, we would also visit The Castro though it is more gay boys; the lesbians can’t afford to live there (I hear many of them live in Oakland across the Bay). The rainbow flags flew everywhere. We visited Good Vibrations, gay bookstores, and drank expresso all day.

There is something about the color of the sky there. There is the view of the Bay from those steep hills. And there is the Golden Gate Bridge, probably the city’s most known symbol. I’m told the place is like a town on the Mediterranean though I can’t prove it since I’ve never been to that part of the world. I love wandering Golden Gate Park, eating sourdough bread, yes, even touristy Fisherman’s Wharf with the smelly sea lions.

I believe San Francisco represented my dreams for the future. I was a senior in high school when I first heard the song that told you if you’re going to San Francisco to “wear flowers in your hair.” Haight-Ashbury, hippies, radicalism — these represent the San Francisco of the 70s. I was also aware I was gay by then and the Bay Area represented freedom to me. Southwest Ohio was the pits, so suppressed and repressed. If it weren’t for escaping through drugs with my group of friends, I might have lost my mind (oh, yeah, sometimes I did with the drugs, too).

So, over the decades, I have come to terms with my Magic City. I have visited the Bay Area countless times and enjoyed the redwoods, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Big Sur, opera, and the country up north along the coast. But it was halfway through owning my first house that I realized: it was cheaper to live here in Cincinnati and visit my Magic City. And, truth be told, I have found some magic even here in Southwest Ohio!

Magic City

my first dream was to move to you
I just wanted to be free
then I realized I could be free anywhere

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