Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Dearest Lyra, Welcome to the outside world. Doesn't your dad look proud!!

You arrived on January 21 right before midnight, I believe on a cold stormy night in the middle of winter. I understand your journey to the outside world was a little rough, but you are now in the loving arms of your parents, Michael and Jamie.

You are the only infant I know with a blog, and with parents like yours, your life will be filled with goodness.


Such an evocative description of San Francisco by Jeffrey Eugenides, from Middlesex, p. 468. For images to heighten the mood while you read along, check Frederic Larson's wonderful photography

Every morning a great wall of fog descends upon the city of San Francisco. It begins far out at sea. It forms over the Farallons, covering the sea lions on their rocks, and then it sweeps onto Ocean Beach, filling the long green bowl of Golden Gate Park. The fog obscures the early morning joggers and the lone practitioners of tai chi. It mists up the windows of the Glass Pavilion. It creeps over the entire city, over the monuments and movie theaters, over the Panhandle dope dens and the flophouses in the Tenderloin. The fog covers the pastel Victorian mansions in Pacific Heights and shrouds the rainbow-colored streets of Chinatown; it boards the cable cars, making their clanging bells sound like buoys; it climbs to the top of Coit Tower until you can't see it anymore; it moves in on the Mission, where the mariachi players are still asleep; and it bothers tourists. The fog of San Francisco, that cold, identity-cleansing mist that rolls over the city every day, explains better than anything else why that city is what it is. After the Second World War, San Francisco was the main point of re-entry for sailors returning from the Pacific. Out at sea, many of these sailors had picked up amatory habits that were frowned upon back on dry land. So these sailors stayed in San Francisco, growing in number and attracting others, until the city becaume the gay capital, the homosexual hauptstadt. (Further evidence of life's unpredictability: the Castro is a direct outcome of the military-industrial complex.) It was the fog that appealed to those sailors because it lent the city the shifting, anonymous feeling of the sea, and in such anonymity personal change was that much easier. Sometimes it was hard to tell whether the fog was rolling in over the city or whether the city was drifting out to meet it. Back in the 1940s, fog hid what those sailors did from thier fellow citiaens. And the fog wasn't done. In the fifties it filled the heads of the Beats like the foam in their cappuccinos. In the sixties it clouded the minds of the hippies like the pot smoke rising in their bongs. And in the seventies, when Cal Stephanides arrived, the fog was hiding my new friends and me in the park.