” Look Toto, I don’t think we are in Guam anymore.”
That is what I would say to my pet dog, if I had one. His name would be appropriate since one of the villages in Guam bears his name. I am sure they got that name long before the tale of the girl from Kansas ever found the written word.
Emerald City? Well, that is what my friends call San Francisco ( on a side note, we call the Castro District -Oz). There is something about San Francisco that has the air of the famed Emerald City. Most people across the country would agree that San Francisco is unique and in its own little bubble and yes…outer-worldly.
The yellow brick road that brings people here is built around dreams to be able to live the life you choose, create something new, have access to many wonders and to escape the doldrums of sameness. It is a city where Queens and Fairies rule. The Lollipop Guild may don leather chaps and the flying monkeys might be on the Google bus.
It is the place that Blue Birds fly ( Blue Boys or girls or those who identify as either). Yes, an occasional earthquake happens and an occasional witch has a house fall on them, but it is a place where resilience and invention provide the true magic. We always rebuild the splendor or mobile app.
Every neighborhood is its own land. A horse of every color inhabits every Victorian , condo or apartment. The Wicked Witch rides the MUNI. Glinda the Good Witch waves her wand after each Giants’ win. The rainbow settles on every bar in San Francisco for Happy Hour from the Irish Bank bear Union Square to Toad Hall in the Castro.
(Judy Garland sings Over The Rainbow while composer Harold Arlen accompanies her on the piano. Recorded at Treasure Island’s California Coliseum in San Francisco on September 24, 1940 for the Golden Gate Exposition.)
Although we may leave Oz, via Virgin America or Amtrak or the Golden Gate Bridge, most of us return. There will no clicking of ruby slippers, to get back to Guam, except for a visit here or there.
For all the reasons above and more. It is a beautiful city that is accessible by foot anywhere. Even as the city is in a new wave of pricey housing, it truly is part of the course to face the change rather than abandon it.
It is a city where eating out is a wonderful adventure for authentic foods from all over the world to those that have been fused together in that San Francisco way. No one throws apples at you ( unless you get that one shop owner mad in Chinatown) , we just make it into a new organic , vegan, gluten free smoothie.
The weather is pleasant. Yes, it rains occasionally and we have fog…but it all clears up where ,many a day, its residents find places like the fruit shelf in Dolores Park to enjoy the outdoors or to walk around naked ( yes, it is illegal—but no one really cares).
But most of all, I have found dear friends – my own group of Scarecrows, Tin Men and Cowardly Lions who bind together for daily adventures ( posted on Facebook, Tweeted out, and Instagrammed). Yes, there are lions and tigers and bears…but we embrace them…some of us date them. True friendship is bonded over Mimosas and Sunday brunch.
So, Toto, we are never leaving. If we do, I bet we will catch the next cyclone or typhoon back.