Someone I don’t know that well, but moved to North Beach right around when I did, Jackson West, has been blogging about North Beach on Curbed SF. He says,
On a bad day, it’s like living in an off-brand corner of Disneyland. On a good day, reading Frank Norris in a claw-foot tub older than your parents, it’s more than worth the heartache of my monthly rent.
That made me think of what made me happy when I first moved here. I was really into playing this opera- La Wally- and making espresso on my countertop. I haven’t done that in years, and in a way I Think I’ve also stopped appreciating the neighborhood and its quirky bohemian past.
So today I fired up the range. First, picking out a proper cup to have the afternoon espresso in. Decided on a bright, rustic French one I bought in Portland. I dusted off the stovetop espresso maker I inherited from my jetset grandparents, used once, never washed (when I got it). So today I made some espresso, celebrated a new teacup being freed from storage, and played Beethoven’s piano concerto #5.
Thing about making espresso in your apartment is that you are standing there for a good fifteen minutes watching water boil. I’m too nervous to leave it unattended, so I stand there, look at the birds out the window, check out my refrigerator art, think of that scene in Big Night where they do this, spend a slow morning making espresso.
Other happy neighborhood moments- sitting on my neighbor’s balcony with her own teacups she made, sipping espresso she put a lot more effort into making than I did, and do (!), we looked out over the intersection and talked about traffic accidents and people we knew who had been in them or died from them.* It felt bohemian. Which is probably far more pleasant than being bohemian. Hence, the Norris quote.
* I love asterisks. But the real reason I’m using one is to comment that conversations about traffic deaths and homelessness bring out a steely, jaded side of most townies.