Nobody appreciates warm weather like San Franciscans. We’re so used to living lives suffused with multilayer outfits that we even have sweaters for our pets. So when it’s nice out, especially during weekend, it’s like someone pushes the pause button on the entire city. Chores don’t get done, obligations get flaked on, and people go through drastic measures just to be outside.
This past weekend was gloriously warm, and for just a couple days, everyone stopped the fussing and fighting that has come to define the San Franciscan condition, and allowed themselves to fall in love with The City again.
I’d been planning all week to spend Sunday cleaning up my room, but when it finally came along, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My buddy Nick Fisher had the same struggle. So he swooped me in his car, and we headed to Marin. We didn’t even make it to Van Ness before we realized all of San Francisco was going the same way.
Nick said, “I know of some secret beaches just south of The City,” so we headed that direction and grabbed some beers along the way.
All this El Niño rain has made the wildflowers incredibly happy. It was like they were smiling along with us while we walked the path down to the secret beach. The problem with secret beaches, though, is that if they are too secret, no one is actually there. So after hanging for a bit, we headed to Ocean Beach.
As we were parking near Sutro Heights, I realized I had never been there before. We walked around the grounds, taking in the whispers of old San Francisco, and saw a large band of teenage LARPers (Live Action Roll Players) picking out which plastic swords they were gonna use, and an even larger gathering of old Chinese people doing tai chi.
Then Nick said, “I know a hidden staircase that takes you right down to the beach,” and despite my fear of heights, we basically scaled the cliff down from Sutro Heights to Ocean Beach. A fall could’ve been not only deadly, but incredibly embarrassing; all of Ocean Beach would’ve seen me awkwardly plummet to the concrete. Luckily, that didn’t happen.
On the rare days when it’s actually warm enough to hang out there, Ocean Beach is the great equalizer. From gay boys jamming to Lady Gaga to black families building sand castles, to white college girls sunbathing, to Asian couples making out under a shade structure, Ocean Beach becomes the friendly and diverse California you’ve always dreamed about — even if you’ve lived here your whole life.
We ran into my friend Pablo and a couple of people he was with. “That’s an Airbus probably on its way to Amsterdam,” Pablo said as he pointed to a plane that was coasting through the sky above us. He explained that he really likes planes, and we all fell into conversation about things that genuinely interested us. Not once did anyone talk about work.
That’s how you can tell when things are going right. Nobody talks about work when they are actually happy and the world feels good. I have a feeling very few people talked in the entire Bay Area about work that day.
I finally made it home and took a shower, washing of the sand and dirt and grit left over from a perfect day. And then I finally did the thing I’d been putting off for weeks: I started cleaning my room.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.