I’m not sure what to expect as I climb the stairs from the BART station that lead to Market and Beale streets—my old stop. Even at nine in the morning, the sun soaks me with its warmth, enveloping my shoulders and gradually coating my arms and legs with each step.
The streets are ghostly. Still, hailing a cab is more difficult than I recall. I walk a few blocks up Market Street, lugging a bright red suitcase behind me and flapping my free arm in the air at the sight of each passing taxi. I'm a disoriented tourist.
“Ahh, hello pretty girl,” an Indian driver says when I hop in his Yellow Cab. “You’re a very attractive lady. God has been nice to you!” His thin neck slithers around the drivers’ seat to face me, and he glides his sunglasses down his nose to get a better look, lifting a bushy eyebrow. He winks.
Four months ago I would have rolled my eyes, exhaled obnoxiously and stuck my nose in my BlackBerry to peruse junk email—anything that didn’t involve listening to this. But today I beam and make conversation. I’ve forgotten how magnificently chatty and inappropriate San Francisco cabbies are. What self-esteem boosters!
When I see Maijken, we throw our arms in the air and wrap them around each other while jumping and laughing and squealing like farm animals. We catch up at Starbucks, which is right around the corner from her new, ultra-sleek abode in SoMa: a modern loft—complete with granite counter tops and hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows—with hints of classic, San Francisco character strewn about the place. In other words, a perfect urban home.
The long weekend involves:
1. An all-day boozing extravaganza at The Ramp, a brunch joint that reminds Maijken of “lounging in Mexico,” located in the heart of a grimy industrial area on Potrero Hill.
2. Vintage shopping trips. (I didn’t buy anything—I still don’t know how to find the “potential” in dresses with shoulder pads.)
3. Wine and spirits at swanky hotels and bars, with views of the night skyline.
4. Sunny, seventy-five degree weather.
5. Bottomless mimosas at Luna Park in the Mission.
6. Manicures and pedicures. My fingers and toes miss this city!
7. A girls' night, which starts in the afternoon and includes sugary cocktails, a Sex and the City viewing, an expensive dinner, more cocktails, dancing, and pizza delivery at 2:30 a.m.
8. Purchasing another ticket to SFO. I’ll be back in three weeks.