There are places in San Francisco that hold special significance to me. Places that reinvent themselves, places that refuse to change, and places that are hardly recognizable anymore. Bernal had fallen into the black hole of out of sight, out of mind for almost a decade, but it’s where I learned to fly my first kite. It’s where I volunteered on the weekends picking up trash and weeding out invasive plants. It’s where I’d go in high school to sit in the sun and drink not coffee out of coffee cups with people I no longer know. It comes back in drips and drabs, here and here. For a while, too long probably the hill was monotone, brown on brown on slightly more golden brown. Burnt plants, screaming for water, trails all but indistinguishable amid the rocks and dead grass. But then it rains, and all those paths reappear. The plants we had al but given up on, spring back into life. The hill that I remember comes back.
People often ask my what I think of the changing city, and I almost always disappoint. Should I be outraged? Apologetic? Have some words of wisdom? I can tell you for a fact that it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve seen someone get shot on muni. I can tell you that there are far less needles littering soma, and that all of the abandoned warehouses in the mission where we used to throw parties have been rehabilitated. I can tell you that warm water cove still exists, but that the canvas is gone. The city isn’t the same, but nor should it be. Everything grows, but the roots, that magic that makes it what it is always remains. It might show itself differently, and you might need to look harder for it in drought, but eventually the rain does come.
For all the purposes Bernal has filled for me, it is now where I walk my dog, actual coffee in hand. All the vistas have memories on display, they are inescapable, and irreplaceable. I am thankful for what the city has been, what it is today, and what it will be; always my home.