Over the weekend we went to San Francisco to celebrate the wedding of Roger's cousin to a lovely English gentleman who requested "Jerusalem" to be sung during the ceremony, a stirring hymn which was played with such grandeur on an old, majestic pipe organ that for a moment I quite forgot myself and thought perhaps I didn't grow up running with wolves on a lone tundra after all, but was in fact every inch the civilized marchioness I'd always imagined myself to be.
Just kidding. I've never imagined myself to be civilized.
To be more specific, we drove to San Francisco. With Winnie. For those of you who are in utter shock at the thought of spending more than twenty minutes in your vehicle, let alone nine hours with three teen/tweenage girls and a puppy...well, you don't know this Canadian.
It was the very definition of a lark for me.
We really did have the most wonderful time.
I've figured out what makes me happiest when going abroad: a lot of walking about, a lot of running around. I don't really enjoy using a car to tour a new city, perhaps for the very reason I don't especially like taking an airplane to get there in the first place.
I want to feel the journey as much as I can. I want to look out the window and see the scenery change from the desert to the farmlands to the rolling hills with their mesmerizing black oaks to the city to the coastline, to the sky overhead, and every nuance in between. In the same way, once I arrive, I like to get out of the car and go by foot. I don't mean to make a huge deal over this and often it is more practical or necessary to fly, but I love the way a road trip and walking about makes the experience more intimate, personal, and exhilarating.
One morning I got up and went for a run. I ran down Market Street, took a turn and got myself into an area that was genuinely scary, got myself back out, then ran up one of those crazy steep hills which look vertical from a distance. As I toiled along, I realized the cyclist ahead of me would make a worthy opponent, so we battled each other every step of the way, laid out our lungs on the pavement, and I came off the victor! Afterward, I turned to go home and got as far as an amazing art supply store called Flax, at which point I realized I was tired of running and would much rather my family join me, instead.
So they did.
It is impossible not to love San Francisco with a love that makes your heart both ache and soar at once. The city yields up its soul every inch of the way, showing you its secrets, its tiny, hidden details. It shows you the lovely, the hideous, the miserable, the weak, the strong, the rich, and the poor. It shows you the young and the old, the lion and the lamb, every shade and color, every tone.
So this, then, was the weekend: a wonderul and perhaps last chance to take a family trip before Sophie heads off to BYU in January, the delight of a puppy and how she was the center of attention wherever she went, the particular experience of feeling both charmed and troubled by a city which contains bits and pieces of the entire world, the dilemma of abundance and want, the wonder of bread from Tartine, the marvel of a fountain pen from Flax, the warmth of extended family, of adoring uncles and aunts, and the culmination of celebrating a marriage, of the feelings this conjures: hope and solemnity, happiness, joy, and love.