Growing up in the metro-Detroit area has not made me a stranger to big cities. Frequent trips to the cultured areas of downtown Detroit, annual trips to Pittsburgh, and vacations in Chicago gave me the impression that I knew all the feature of an urban environment. However, this impression was rocked to its core when my grandparents took me on a trip to the city that breaks all stereotypes: San Francisco, California.
In May 2007, my freshman year of high school, my Nana and Papa surprised me with a trip to California. We stayed at the Marriott in Los Altos, about 2 blocks away from my Uncle David, Aunt Robin, and my five-year-old cousin Lexi. It was the perfect location: 15 minutes away from Stanford, 20 minutes from San Jose, and about an hour from the City by the Bay.
The trip meant so much to me. I was blessed with the amazing opportunity of spending an entire week with my grandparents, which allowed me to get to know them more than I ever have. I also got to spend time with my California relatives, who I normally only see once every two years and who I sorely miss. The best part though? Traversing the coolest city on earth with the ones I love.
You cannot fully understand San Francisco unless you have visited the city yourself. The history of the city is fascinating, and the feeling you get when you hike up the slanted streets is its own endorphin. Everyone is so mellow and the vibe is so relaxed; and for being so diverse, there is a sense of oneness and unity. Crossing the Golden Gate bridge, touring Alcatraz, and drinking Peet’s Coffee like it was going out of style made me realize that there was no place on the planet that I would rather be. The view of the city skyline from across the bay literally took my breath away and left me grasping for words to describe the sheer beauty of the fog rolling in from the Pacific. Leaving San Francisco caused a physical pain; perhaps because, like so many others, I had left my heart there.
Visiting California broadened my horizons. It made me realize that my daily world of Royal Oak, Michigan is so small compared to the gigantic world that’s out there. Now, I have a whole new perspective on everything that surrounds me. I can only hope that someday, somehow, I can return to my city, that indescribably beautiful City by the Bay. And this time, it will be for good.
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