since the summer of 1998 – and actually before then if i really think about it – i’ve been mildly obsessed with san francisco. it screamed my name in some high pitched sound that i thought only wild-haired different-kind-of-black folks and eccentric types from all backgrounds could hear. the summer of 98 i worked at the chronicle and even though i lived and played on the east bay i still assumed my love affair was with ‘the city’ (as san francisco is referred).

who knew that i was a cheater from the start. my true love is actually the bay. i love oakland…with its pockets of neighborhoods that people warn you about (like mine) that are full of working and church going and sometimes mischievous people. i love watching the throngs of black folks from every walk of life darting in between traffic and hurriedly chasing dreams into bart stations. i love the lake – in all its gentrified beauty – that is the hip answer to berkeley nestled in the bosom of oakland’s gritty glory.

my revelation about the east bay has me feeling a little lukewarm about ‘the city’. don’t get me wrong, i like san francisco well enough, i have friends there and it has amazing things to offer. but the east bay, oakland in particular, is the underdog. the neglected step child. an afterthought in plans and execution.

take the bridge for instance. bay not golden. to cross over the bridge from the bay to ‘the city’ you are first met with the $4 toll – as if life there is so wonderful you should have to pay to enter. then there is the view. going to ‘the city’ you get the expansive and glorious view (when not covered in oil) of the bay’s freezing blue-green waves. driving west, on the top portion of that long bridge, you catch the occasional glimpse of boats in the distance and sneak up on the hazy view of the skyline as it emerges before you -the crowded and pointy buildings nestled in fog.

now make a u-turn and head back east. what you get is the view from the underside of that same bridge, scaffolding and memories of the 89 earthquake that dropped tons of asphalt on unsuspecting cars heading in your same direction. and there is no toll…no dividing of the previous $4 to assure everyone that both sides are an equally good time. just a dumping of sorts, a curt dismissal from a cheap airline.

even so i’m coming to love oakland, with her landmark tribune tower lit up in neon red (even though the tribune isn’t housed there anymore),bart snaking unsuspectingl and sparsely through warmer weather and brighter sun, the hills glittering like distant disco balls in a voluptuous horizon. oakland with her fierce reputation that folds fact and fiction into unquestioned myth.

san francisco may be the belle of this ball but oakland won’t snub your advances and she’ll offer you up one hell of a dance.





2 Comments on the bridge

  1. LaDawn says:

    What a beautiful, poetic love poem…I'm glad you are back writing again.

  2. Ess says:

    You really falling hard for the bay, aren't you? Wat is happening to the lure of strange and exotic places with tantalizing dishes created to tease the discerning palate?

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