Monday, March 02, 2009

Swan Lake and a Search for Kapibaras

What a lovely weekend we had in San Francisco. We drove down Saturday morning and immediately had lunch at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher in the Ferry Building, which means we’ve now been to all three Taylor’s Automatic outposts. Our burgers and chili cheese fries fueled our trek to our hotel (not really a trek, since we took a trolley), the Huntingdon Nob Hill—a luxurious place where we had an enormous room, turndown service, and the use of the very nice spa. Thanks, Hotwire. Thanks, Andrew’s uncanny ability to sleuth out what the Hotwire hotel listings actually are.

Though we were hankering for a swim, we went to Japantown first—I was and am on a quest for more kapibaras, the extremely kawaii hedgehog/mole-like creatures I found in Japan, a quest that was, unfortunately, unsuccessful. The heart of Japantown is the Japan Center, a shopping complex full of Japanese restaurants and stores selling Japanese crafts and goods. One of the stores is as close to a 100-yen store as I think it’s possible to get outside of Japan. I purchased two new kawaii erasers to add to my collection: a sea lion and a basket of steamed buns. We’ll go back sometime for some shabu-shabu.

We did sneak in a swim after that, in the spa’s beautiful pool, before getting dressed for dinner and the ballet. After eating some good, quick food at Thai House Express, it felt wonderful to join the extremely dressed-up crowds as we made our way to the opera house. We had tickets to Swan Lake, which neither Andrew nor I had ever seen, and it was excellent—we especially loved the dances with the whole ensemble of thirty tutu-clad swans. We enjoyed it immensely.

We spent Sunday morning at the spa, swimming then eating fruit and reading the newspaper by the fireplace by the pool. Then we walked in the rain to brunch at the home of our friends Fabrice and Teresa, who have an adorable new six-week-old daughter. Reluctantly, we then headed back for the train and then on towards home.

It’s always hard to come back here after a weekend in such a great city, but our feelings are complicated by our growing fixation on just how cheap it is to live in Sacramento. Our rent is a third of what we’d pay in SF; and, other than our weekends away, groceries, and occasional dinners out, we spend almost nothing. It’s such a slippery slope—the gnashing of teeth of hating to live outside of a big city slowly gives way to the realization that if one year stretches to two or even three, we could have enough money saved to afford almost any house we want when we do move back East. (Well, not those houses on the Times website. But other nice houses.) There are so many tradeoffs, though. Our rent is a third of SF but we don’t have a bustling city outside our doorstep. All we have outside our doorstep are the annoying piles of yard trash by the curb that take up all the parking spaces. And squirrels that eat all my plants. But the cost of living…the cost of living…That’s the thing to focus on.

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