For me, going back to San Francisco was, well.... quite an emotional vacation! I used to live and work there some time ago as a graphic designer for Wired Magazine. Even though it was only for a 2 year period in my life it made an impression that I keep with me to this day. Whether it be the bay, the breeze, the fog, the art, the vegetation, the people, etc. it's a place that really encompasses so many wonderful things.
I used to live in the Mission District in a small flat I shared with 2 other people. There are many things I loved (and did not love so much!) about this area - but when I came back to retrace my steps - nostalgia kicked in and it was really about the positive memories. I think as you get older and gain perspective on your life, you're more inclined to look for the positive within something rather than get stuck only on the negative. Life really is short and your journeys and experiences really need to be cherished.
Walking around and catching glimpses of what I used to know was something special. Even sitting on the stoop of my old building was fun. Down the street a block over was/is Dolores Park - and I really wanted to sit up there, take in the city and do a little sketching. For me, sometimes sketching is the best way to experience and remember a place!
What really makes the Mission District great (aside from all the many awsome Taquerias and coffee shops) is the street art. I was and still am a sucker for exploring and finding art. So a walk through Clarion Alley and other random streets was on my list of to-do's. You will always bear witness to political statements coupled with pure street art on walls of buildings. To me, this really defines the beauty and reality of a place like San Francisco.
And then there is always the California foliage. And oh how it grows and grows here... it is so hard to explain - so taking pictures helps! Succulents, Banana Leaves, Fig Trees. Things that are familiar yet larger than life in this area. I have a deep respect for nature - so seeing all of these beautiful plants grow in every nook and cranny within a bustling and relatively cramped city was (and always will be) special to me.
There is always a great view within and outside the city to find and explore. One place that was always accessible for me was the view from Bernal Heights Park. Vast and all-encompassing...
I explored other areas like Yerba Beuna Gardens, SF MoMa, and the lovely Oakland. I feel like I ran out of time! But I am so glad that I took the trip back to the Bay Area.
I was also surprised how many things that I thought would have changed so much really felt the same. I suppose that's a sign of being somewhere that feels like 'home'.