Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Flashing Backward and Forward
The Great Highway hugs the Pacific ocean. Follow the great highway North and you will make your way to the Presidio. Along the way, you have to climb a hill. As you gain altitude, the views become even more spectacular; you see the depths of the deep blue ocean as it grows bigger and bigger. On a sunny day, the ocean sparkles as if a thousand diamonds were thrown in the water. By this point (Mile 5 on a good run), I am usually out of breath, sweating profusely, and in pain. The endorphins have yet to set in. My only saving grace (aside from the views of the coastline and ruins of Sutro baths), is arriving at the Cliff House. Here, I pause and stretch, stare at the ravishing scene, while sipping some water.
For the last three years, I have run past the Cliff House on long runs en route to the Presidio. Before last night, the only thing I had really seen was the bathroom and the bar (the bathroom is to the left). Since discovering the Cliff House over three years ago, I have always wondered when I would experience the unique ambience and taste the masterful culinary creations in one of San Francisco's historical landmarks. Our meager financial aid checks can not really support an appetite for fine dining. After years of wishing and whizzing by the beautiful white fixture, I finally got to actually enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean from the inside.
Thanks to San Francisco's Dine about Town, a three course meal can be enjoyed for only $34.95. Admittedly, that is the cost of my groceries for two weeks, but sometimes exceptions need to be made. Life needs be lived. And to make dinner even more special, I was joined by three of my high school friends for a long overdue reunion. After being MIA for so long during sub-internships and residency interviews, I have resurfaced and am reconnecting with my friends. I am regaining time lost from all the cancellations, rain checks, and delayed responses.
When we were all reunited, I was warmly welcomed by my friends, who ignored my resounding apologies. As we made our way to the brightly lit Cliff House, we paused and look out at the black water.
"This is an epic view. And I hardly use the word epic." My friend said.
I agreed. This view was entirely new for me and it was epic.
We were seated in a square corner table that was dimly lit by a small candle situated in the middle of our table. Vertical lights dangled from the white ceiling. Wall to wall windows provided panoramic views. From our large window, the outlines of the crashing waves were visible in a black backdrop. The inside of the Cliff House had shades of modernity sprinkled with historical relics from the ruins of the Sutro baths, including photographs, jerseys, and building fragments from Sutro Baths.
Our table was the liveliest. The conversations flowed as seamlessly as the three courses of our delicious meals were placed before us. As I finally got up to speed on each of my friend's lives, I was simply amazed at how far we have come. My friends are a unique and ambitious group of individuals--true visionaries. In our group, we have an urban planner who returned from India and will soon be moving to Mississippi for city planning; another friend just completed her masters in education and has taught Kindergarten in Oakland and now teaches Sunday School and works in a craft store; and my other friend is getting a masters in global policy after working as operations manager at a museum in China Town.
We are an eclectic group with a wealth of talent and experience. It is refreshing to hear about how others solve problems that afflict our society. I am learning about entirely new ways to think.
We have grown up. Years have passed, but some things are the same. We are still friends. And even though we see each other so infrequently, we learn from each other. And we will always share those moments of unstoppable laughter, those secret smiles, those inside jokes, those stories, and those conversations that we hope never end.
As quickly as we flash back to the memories of years that have escaped us, we quickly flash forward--setting our sights on the years to come, big professional and personal dreams, and more dinner reunions at the Cliff House (or restaurants as upscale).