I’m back in my foggy City by the Sea, my west-coast left-coast home by the Bay. I lived in San Francisco from 1995 to 2000, and even though I left SF more than a decade ago, a part of me still feels like it’s home. Whenever I visit, as I am now for the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, there’s a familiarity I feel deep in my bones.
At San Francisco International, the SuperShuttle van driver is speaking Cantonese to his colleague on the phone. I smile in secret knowledge of how many more times we’ll circle the terminal buildings, but neither he nor the other passengers know that I know. When we finally head up 101 (not “highway 101″, not “the 101″ – not unless you’re from LA), the first roadmarker of memory is the lumbering bulk of the San Bruno hills, rising up to meet the freeway. The narrow ribbon of highway separates the microclimates of hill and bay, and I’ve seen it rain up one side of 101 and sun shine down on the other.
Oyster Point marks the beginning of the Bayshore Freeway, and soon The Stick comes into view. While I lived here, they sold off the naming rights to 3Com, but everyone still called it The Stick anyways. Now, apparently, it’s back to Candlestick Park, and all is right in the world. I used to live in Potrero Heights, not far from 101′s “Hospital Curve”, but on this day, my driver veers onto the Southern Freeway, aka 280. The one whose northern half they tore down after Loma Prieta damaged it back in ’89. As 280 heads into the City, the Sixth Street flyover rises up above the rest of the concrete roadways and you can see San Francisco’s skyline come into view.
It’s absolutely beautiful, for maybe half a minute before the offramp drops you back down onto the streets. In three days, the largest and most prestigious Asian North American film festival on the continent will begin and I will be busy helping run point for our touring presentation of Suite Suite Chinatown. Until then, I’m going to walk around this old city and feel like I’m at home again.