San Francisco.

Month Eleven. Lineholder. #SFO.

I'm sitting in a vinyl booth in a tiny dim sum shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. The seat underneath me is cracked and worn. Mirrors line the walls, lovingly windexed, minus a tiny upper corner that escaped cleaning, now reflecting sunlight and dust.

There are several televisions blaring, one has some sort of Chinese game show and the other a complex soap opera. A woman in an apron stands behind a plexiglass case, arranging steamed dumplings. A punky looking guy in his 20s with a choppy haircut, earbuds in, a busboy rag in his jeans hops behind the counter and grabs a paper cup of coffee before plopping down at an empty table in the corner. The woman reapplies her lipstick in the oven window reflection before catching the young man sneaking off with one of her pastries. She swats him before cracking a tiny smile and I am suddenly quite certain she is his mother.

A bored looking girl, about college-aged, comes by with my Oolong tea. She has black-rimmed glasses and is wearing Tom's. We exchange glances and I realize for a minute that she is probably a million miles away from here, from this humdum job, from her Chinese-American co-worker family. She is probably thinking about what every young person in their 20s thinks about: relationships, politics, how to escape her family, and how to avoid a general quarter-life existentialist crisis.

Tourists come in. A couple of old men play checkers in the corner. The bell rings in the kitchen. I plug my phone into the wall outlet to text, adding to the scene. There's high speed wifi and Chinese trinkets. Lucky cats look at me from high up on the shelf, waving their paws. I feel like I am in the heartland of America right now. This is the melting (hot) pot.

This is what I look for when I travel around the country, and around the world; these tiny little moments where I feel so connected to those around me. Culture somehow becomes muted and yet strikingly apparent at the same time.

After a delicious bowl of dumpling soup I meander down the street. The San Francisco Ferry Building is on the waterfront. The late afternoon sun streams in and I spot a Blue Bottle coffee stand. Tourists and tech guys shoulder up to the counter to get cappuccinos. I grab a coffee and wander onwards.

San Francisco is beautiful today. I am here only for the afternoon, but I am soaking up every minute of this tiny layover. Although I had planned to find a coffee shop and do some work all afternoon, getting lost in Chinatown was a pleasant surprise. Tonight I work a redeye out of SFO, and all day tomorrow I will be in another city and another time zone. I am happy to have this sliver of the unexpected.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Happy exploring!


Popular Posts