Excerpts from the essay “Two-Letter Worlds,” composed in the Spring of 2018 as the final work for Garnette Cadogan’s class, “Seeing the City Afresh.”

The Mission

Every day at four pm, fog descends on Dolores Park, blanketing sunny and joyous days, shrugging clothes onto naked, sunburned shoulders, gathering drained bottles into clinking backpacks. My friends resented when the fog signaled it was time to pack our picnic and head home, but that's when I was free to complete my neighborhood circuit.

The Castro

I would often meet my friend P. for brunch on Sunday mornings. He lives in the heart of the Castro, and we would alternate meeting near me, near him, or somewhere in-between. The relationship between food and books in San Francisco is a close one. Chow, a favorite spot of his to meet, is next to Aardvark Books, and across the street from Thoroughbread, another food oasis. Almond croissants are Thoroughbread's specialty and, if you get there early enough in the morning, you can take your coffee and hot, flaky pastry straight out of the oven and sit at a table in the back garden where the fog crouches, welcoming you, burning off as beige foamed milk clings to the inside of your cup.

Hayes Valley

In a nondescript office building several blocks from the heart of Hayes Valley, I started talking with K. once I turned 29.  To get to K.’s office, I marched uphill next to the Octavia Street Offramp to the heart of a neighborhood that was once considered Skid Row but was now populated with more $1,000 strollers and macaron boutiques than any other three-block stretch of the city.  I had ruptured my Achilles and realized I had to slow down, by being forced to.  Work, life, and community were oppressing me and I sprinted recklessly forward, trying to leave doubt, sadness, and isolation in my wake.