When I first became face-to-face with California during my 2010 family vacation, I was at first hit with a sense of excitement. However, the more time we spent walking uphill, getting seasick on a boat, and pulling hair out of frustration due to the ludicrous prices, I was just about ready to drag everyone back to Texas. Still, even as upsetting as it was to find the money in my wallet quickly vanishing with each souvenir, something kept me anchored to San Francisco. The abnormal amount of cute boys walking around in public? The refreshing sights that my home state couldn’t offer? Or maybe, just maybe, it was the clam chowder than had won me over.
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When you compare that to the rest of San Francisco, it does sound ridiculous.
My first encounter with this delectable masterpiece was on a chilly day along Fisherman’s Wharf. From not having the common sense to pack a jacket, I was freezing down to my toes, only able to pathetically add on layers (though that had been a futile move on my part). By the time I felt like I chopping off my arms to save the rest of my body from frostbite, I had developed a very large hate for San Francisco and its loathsome weather. Thankfully, in an attempt to warm everyone up, my dad decided to buy us all a bowl of clam chowder from one of the stands.
The first spoonful and I was hit with warmth and the undeniable feeling of love (or so I like to exaggerate). My taste-buds couldn’t believe it as the mind-blowing question swirled in my head like a bad hypnotizing background: what had I been missing my entire life?
The clam chowder was hot and scorched my tongue mercilessly, but I didn’t care. I had heaven in my hands and I was ready to make full use of its powers to warm my body and fight against Mother Nature. My stomach was reeling back in joy, having found its soul-mate and all too eager to eat him up – and I was all too eager to allow it.
I might’ve looked a little odd. People probably saw a girl dumb enough to venture into the cold without wearing the proper equipment, holding tightly onto a bowl of mediocre clam chowder and eyeing it like a lover, oblivious to the better attractions the city had to offer. As strange as I looked to them, they looked equally strange to me due to their lack of clam chowder. While the other tourists wandered about with their families, I could’ve gotten lost and not cared as long as I had my little bowl of bliss (and, for a moment or two, I did have to wait around and peer through the thick crowds from the sidelines, trying to find a familiar face).
Inevitably, my stomach was a single lady once again, because quickly after discovering this missing piece of my life, it was gone – or rapidly devoured, if you want to get technical.
In all honesty, it wasn’t a hair-raising vacation, at least not in the way you would think. My soul remained the same and my personality didn’t take a 180 degree twist. I didn’t leave with a life-changing experience that allowed me to see the errors of my ways nor did I desire to dedicate myself to saving the world. Even so, I hadn’t returned empty-handed; not every experience has to spark a thoughtful and thorough analysis of all of my faults. However beneficial that would’ve been, I was satisfied going home with a happier belly.