I have been loving having this song on my running mix. (Yes, that's right, I said running mix. So, yes, that means I am running again! But that is a post for another day.)
I first heard this song during the cooldown portion of a step class at the Y while hugely preggers with Bronwen. I remember wondering if the lyrics really were what I thought they were, if he was really saying "Won't you save me, San Francisco?" He was. I stood there stretching my limbs in my post-workout, sweaty bliss thinking about just how much San Francisco did "save me" once.
And I've been thinking about it on my runs ever since. Okay, I didn't really need to be saved, per se. I was not in distress. I was not looking for Jesus. But San Fran did become a part of who I am. As a place it sort of saved, as in preserved, some essential parts of my personality.
For one whole summer during the college years I lived in San Francisco. I was there to take part in the Summer Training Congress, which is an intense acting school at the American Conservatory Theater.
I learned a lot that summer, inside the classroom and out.
That summer I became comfortable in my own skin. I could be academic and artsy. I could go to church (Glide!) and a matinee. I could be many things at once. I didn't have to pick. Or justify.
I think in many ways, before that summer, I felt pressure (maybe self-imposed?) to be one thing or another. To be easily defined. But San Francisco saved me from this sort of thinking. Helped me just to be me. Helped me to really practice what I now seem to preach all the time: people are so much more complicated than our culture's labels try to make them out to be.
Most of all, that summer, I fell in love with San Francisco herself.
I loved my twice daily walks, sometimes with my roommate Stacy, sometimes solo, from our apartment up in North Beach down to the theatre and back. I developed some pretty sweet calf muscles that summer.
I loved my brief daily exchanges with Angelo on these walks. He stood outside his shop: tall, Italian, bald, with a beard and a hoop earring. He always wore a black t-shirt and his beefy, tattooed arms were always crossed over his belly, looking rather thuggish. Ciao, bella! he'd say. Come stai, Angelo? I'd reply. He'd laugh at my giant bag of books. I'd ask him for a restaurant recommendation. Somehow I knew if I ever ran into trouble in San Fran that Angelo would have my back.
I loved lining up on Saturday mornings outside Liguria Bakery, which was just around the corner from my apartment, to get my weekly focaccia fix.
I loved the scenes I did for my classes. I can still recite my Desdemona monologues. I recall crawling across a desk while playing the role of a therapist in a scene from Raised in Captivity.
I loved learning the concept of "yes, and..." in my improv class. I apply this lesson to my parenting style all the time, but that, too, is a post for another day.
I loved pining over the dreamy, cocky, and angst-ridden Clayton, a classmate at the Congress. I filled pages in my journal. I wrote slam poetry about him. I got drunk and flirted with him. I got nowhere.
I loved learning everything under the sun regarding vocal production, diction, and accents. I developed amazing control over my soft palate, my lung capacity, and my spoken voice.
I loved exploring the sights of SF with Stacy. We were excellent tourists together. I also love that Stacy and I have seen each other only twice since that summer, but when we do it is as though no time has elapsed. We are ourselves--our theatre selves--with each other, even though neither of us made it professionally in the acting world.
I loved that there was exactly enough room for everyone there to be whomever they truly were.
So here you go. Enjoy your listen. This is the official video, which is pretty corny. I love the nods to The Graduate, and I laughed out loud at the distinctly San Francisco-ish twist at the end.
Side note: If you watch "Up All Night," then you will know (as I do now) that it is apparently totally uncool to like Train, unless you are doing so in an "ironic way." We all know that I am far more sarcastic than I am ironic, so I guess that makes me, unsurprisingly, totally uncool. Hee!