Doubtless my taste in childhood literature – A Wrinkle in Time, Chronicles of Narnia, or From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – shaped this interest. In each the child characters found a hidden path, most magical but some mundane, to adult adventure without submitting to adult control.
Like every good piece of fiction, each character suffered disappointment, overcame obstacles, and returned chastened. Regardless neither they nor the reader regretted the journey. Most, especially this reader, sought a pathway to return.
A life spent breathing San Francisco’s intoxicating smells – salty fog, innumerable spices, and perfumed humanity – doubtless contributed to this zest for adventure. Childhood’s culinary map included Chinese Dishes, Russian Piroshki’s, and (homemade) Greek Food; generally sold in nearby but still different neighborhoods. (Now it would be Thai, Ethiopian, and Indian, likely without as much travel but lessons still learned.) Prior to Proposition 13 – yes, I’m that old – museum, aquariums, and parks holding the world’s knowledge opened their doors for free. (Even now you can find a way to free days if you can fight the crowds.) Frankly today the babble of different languages, clashing customs, and the kaleidoscope of cultures make even SF MUNI an adventure. (Unlike some of my peers from the Outer Sunset, I — thanks to my mom’s early lessons — embrace San Francisco’s diversity.)
It’s why San Francisco continues to succeed through earthquakes, AIDS, and recessions.
Most of us came from somewhere else – or were raised by those folks from somewhere else – or wrongly get treated as being from somewhere else despite having families here going back generations. As such we know nothing forces us to remain stifled by custom or status quo. For those willing to remain so ignorant their stay is no longer pleasant. Or, on a happier note, food and/or persons from somewhere else often seduce them into knowing better. An honest look at San Francisco’s (California) history will reveal this has happened for centuries (when we used to pit ethnicities against each other, like we currently do with racial groups.)